The father of the suspect in the case of a missing 4-year-old girl said that he believes the girl’s mother was involved.
Vence told police officers an elaborate story that included him being knocked out while in Houston with Maleah and coming to in Sugar Land without the girl. Surveillance footage later showed that while Vence said his car was stolen in the alleged abduction of Maleah, someone driving the vehicle dropped Vence off at the hospital the day after she was allegedly kidnapped.
“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,” the Houston Police Department said in a statement.
Now Vence’s father says that Maleah’s mother was involved with her girl’s disappearance, adding that he doesn’t think his son was involved.
“Yeah, I believe my son is innocent and I believe his story,” Joe Vence Sr. said during an interview with the IckedMel YouTube channel transcribed by KTRK. “Derion had those kids most of the time, he’s the one who took care of the kids.”
Vence said his son took care of Maleah and her two brothers, regularly dropping them off and picking them up from daycare and doing other duties. He was described by police as Maleah’s stepfather and by Maleah’s mother as her ex-fiance.
“I really believe either she has something to do with it, like he’s been set up in some type of way,” Vence said. “I know he didn’t do anything to her because he loves her. He’s been taking care of her since she was like 1-year-old. He’s not the type of person that’s going to harm a child at all. ”
Hitting back at allegations by Brittany Bowens, Maleah’s mother, that his son molested Maleah, Vence added: “Why would you leave your child at home with him if he’s doing all of these things?”
He also addressed the laundry basket the police mentioned, saying Vence “was actually doing laundry.”
And he said the blood investigators said they found inside the apartment Bowens, the suspect, and the children were living in wasn’t actually from the girl.
“The blood that they said they found inside the house, if you look at the report, it says related to Maleah because it’s her brother’s blood from his toothbrush,” Vence said.
The allegation against Bowens came after protesters confronted her at court on May 13, chanting “justice for Maleah.”
Some family members of Maleah’s father who yelled “she let it happen” and “Brittany knew all along.”
Child Protective Services removed Maleah and her brothers from the apartment Vence and Bowens shared in August after the girl suffered a head wound, but the children were returned in February, an agency spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
When asked by reporters why—if she had concerns about Vence—Bowens had left her daughter in Vence’s care while Bowens attended her father’s funeral out of state, her representative Quanell X declined to comment, saying, “I’m not going to speak to that.”