Blood found in the apartment of a Texas man has been linked to his missing 4-year-old stepdaughter, according to news reports.
Derion Vence, 26, was arrested Saturday and is jailed on $1 million bond on charges related to the disappearance of Maleah Davis, Houston authorities said.
Vence reported the little girl missing on May 5 after describing an elaborate kidnapping and carjacking the day before in which he and his 2-year-old son were eventually freed, but he said the kidnappers kept the little girl.
Authorities are still searching for Maleah. She’s described as 3 feet tall, weighing 30 pounds with black hair and eyes. She was last seen wearing a light blue Under Armor jacket, blue jeans and grey tennis shoes with pink and white details.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 5:15 pm EDT May 13: The first court appearance for the suspect in the disappearance of 4-year-old Maleah Davis was rescheduled to July 10.
Derion Vance has only been charged with tampering with evidence in the case at this point.
While in court Monday for the postponement of the first court appearance, the little girl’s mother, Brittany Bowens, was swarmed by protesters, according to the Houston Chronicle.
At least a dozen people wearing T-shirts with “Justice for Maleah” slogans yelled questions at Bowens, the Chronicle reported.
“Why isn’t she locked up?” someone yelled.
As Bowens tried to leave the courthouse, the protesters chanted “Justice for Maleah” and followed her out to the street.
Some of the protesters reportedly alleged Bowens was complicit in the girl’s death, although police have not yet confirmed the child was killed, nor have they found her body.
Update 6:44 a.m. EDT May 13: The last images of Maleah Davis alive have been released, KTRK reported.
Images taken on April 30 was the same day her mother left Houston to attend a funeral.
Vence can be seen bringing Maleah to the family’s apartment. Days later, on May 3, officials said Vence was seen on video leaving the home with his son and a laundry basket that held a black garbage bag, KTRK reported.
A neighbor told KTRK she saw Vence on his patio on May 4, at a time that he allegedly told police he was knocked out along a road in Sugar Land.
“He was standing inside his porch smoking and he looked at us,” Jannia Soto told the television station. “He saw us, and he didn’t have no bruise or nothing on his forehead.”
Meanwhile, the community came out to remember the little girl on Mother’s Day. The group Parents Against Predators organized a balloon release then marched to the building where Vence a lived.
Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 12: As Derion Vence sits in a Houston jail, homicide investigators revealed that blood found in Vence’s apartment has been linked to his missing stepdaughter Maleah Davis, according to the Houston Chronicle, which cited charging documents.
Authorities said they found drops of blood in a bathroom and hallway of the home Vence shares with the little girl’s mother, Brittany Bowens, the Chronicle reported.
Blood analysis “showed that the major component is consistent with being from a person who is the maternal offspring of Brittany Bowens,” investigators said.
Cadaver dogs also reportedly alerted to the scent of decomposition in a search of Vence’s car, police said.
Vence was arrested Saturday and charged with “tampering with evidence - human corpse.” He’s jailed on a $1 million bond.
Update 9 a.m. EDT May 12: Houston police released a new mugshot of Vence, 26, last night. KTRK reported he was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force at a relative’s house in Sugar Land, Texas.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Vence made his first court appearance Saturday. His bond is set at $1 million.
According to KTRK, investigators do not believe Maleah is still alive, although officials have not confirmed if she died.
Update 7:10 p.m. EDT May 11: Houston police have now arrested Derion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis.
Vence, 26, is charged with tampering with evidence and arrested at a relative’s home in Sugar Land Saturday morning, Houston police officials said in a news release.
Vence told police that the little girl was abducted by three Hispanic males who stole his Nissan, but released him and his 2-year-old son.
“Although Vence reported his silver Nissan Altima was taken in the abduction, surveillance video showed someone in that Nissan Altima dropped Vence off at the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital on May 5,” a day after Davis was reportedly abducted, according to Houston homicide investigators.
“Also, blood evidence obtained from Vence’s apartment has been linked to Maleah. Vence was also observed carrying a full laundry basket from the apartment,” police officials said.
Vence’s silver Nissan Altima was found on Thursday in Missouri City, Texas, with the laundry basket and a gas can in the trunk.
Police are still searching for the little girl and are asking for the public’s help in finding her.
Update 1:10 p.m. EDT May 9: A tipster called authorities Thursday after spotting the silver Nissan Altima allegedly stolen during Maleah’s reported kidnapping Saturday.
Houston police Officer Ken Fregia said a taxi cab driver spotted the vehicle parked in Missouri City. Police later determined the car’s license plates matched the one reported stolen.
Fregia said officers have glanced inside the car, which was unlocked when authorities found it, but that it “looks normal.”
“There’s no obvious signs of anything (having happened) in the car,” Fregia said. “At first glance there’s no ... signs of anything in the car right now.”
He said the vehicle will be towed from the area so that police can conduct a full sweep of the car, looking for fingerprints and “just (going) over it with a fine-toothed comb.”
“We’re trying to look at the (surveillance) video to see when it was dropped off,” he said.
Fregia said police haven’t been able to coordinate a time to meet with Maleah’s stepfather, Darion Vence, to get a police sketch drawn up of the alleged kidnappers. He declined to say whether he was a person of interest in the investigation.
“I would like to to talk to him, but right now I’m not concerned that we haven’t,” he said.
Authorities continue to search for a blue pickup truck connected to the case.
Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 8: The search and rescue organization Texas EquuSearch suspended its search Wednesday for missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis.
The group will resume looking for the child Thursday morning, according to a post on social media.
Texas EquuSearch officials said finding the vehicle the little girl was in when she disappeared is a top priority. Earlier Wednesday, police released photos of the Nissan Altima that her stepfather was driving when the girl was allegedly abducted and the car stolen.
The group’s founder, Tim Miller , said they conducted an aerial search near the Brazos River Wednesday, but didn’t find any new leads in the case, according to KPRC-TV
Meanwhile, another group , including the girl’s mother and hundreds of other volunteers, handed out flyers in the area around the family’s southwest Houston apartment.
Update 2:35 p.m. EDT May 8: Police released new images Wednesday of the stolen silver Nissan Altima from which Maleah was allegedly taken.
The search for Maleah was suspended Tuesday due to inclement weather including heavy flooding, KPRC-TV reported. Police confirmed they weren’t searching “specific locations” for Maleah on Wednesday, however, authorities said the investigation remained “very active.”
Update 8:20 p.m. EDT May 7: The Houston Police Department issued a statement saying it has not confirmed that Darion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis, is a person of interest in her disappearance. The department issued the following statement:
“The investigation into the whereabouts of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis remains on-going. HPD customarily doesn't identify persons of interest or suspects unless charges are filed. Any updates will be posted on twitter. No other information is available at this time.”
Update 6:15 p.m. EDT May 7: Houston Police say Darion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis, is now a person of interest in her disappearance, a source reportedly told KRIV. Vence was the last person who saw Maleah before she went missing Friday, according to investigators.
Officials said Vence told them he, Maleah and his 2-year-old son were abducted by three men in a blue Chevrolet truck. Vence said one of the men knocked him out and when he regained consciousness, Maleah and Vence’s car, a silver Nissan, was missing.
Houston police Sgt. Mark Holbrook said Vence has “a lot of blanks” in his story, CNN reported. Officials are seeking the help of the public for more information.
Original report: A missing Texas girl whose stepfather told police that she was kidnapped by three men had been removed from her home last August during an abuse investigation, officials said Monday.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Child Protective Services placed 4-year-old Maleah Davis and her brothers, ages 5 and 1, in state custody after receiving a report that the girl had suffered a head injury caused by "possible physical abuse," officials said.
A family member cared for the children until they were returned to mother Brittany Bowens' home in February, KTRK-TV reported. CPS officials have been visiting the home "at least once a month," agency spokeswoman Tiffani Butler told the Chronicle.
Bowens told KTRK that a fall had caused Maleah's injury. Police said the girl has since had multiple brain surgeries.
"My spirit is so broken," she said Monday in an interview with the TV station. "I feel so lost. I can't concentrate. I can't focus. It's so overwhelming for me. It doesn't seem real."
The developments came one day after the search for Maleah sparked national headlines.
On Sunday, Houston police told reporters that Maleah's stepfather, Darion Vence, said he, Maleah and his toddler son were heading to the Houston airport Friday night to pick up Bowens when Vence pulled over to investigate a "popping noise." Moments later, three Hispanic men in a blue Chevy pickup pulled over, as well, Vence told investigators.
Vence said one of the men knocked him out, while another said Maleah "looks very nice, looks very sweet," according to Houston police Sgt. Mark Holbrook.
Vence told police that he briefly regained consciousness in the back of the truck, saw the men and children, then blacked out again until 6 p.m. Saturday, the Chronicle reported. The men then left Vence and Kourtland near a highway in Sugar Land before fleeing with Maleah, Vence said.
Vence said he and his son walked along Highway 6 seeking help until they finally reached a hospital after 10 p.m. Saturday. He reported the incident to authorities, who issued an Amber Alert for Maleah on Sunday morning.
Maleah, who is black, stands about 3 feet tall, weighs 30 to 40 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes, police said. At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing a pink hair bow, a light blue jacket and blue jeans with gray, white and pink sneakers, authorities said. Officials initially said Maleah was 5 years old, but they issued a correction Monday saying she is 4.
Authorities also said the vehicle Vence had been driving, a 2011 Nissan Altima that belongs to Bowens, is missing. The silver car has temporary tag number 330-92G9.
Vence is not considered a suspect in the case, police said.
If you have information about the case, please call 713-308-3600 or 713-222-TIPS.
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