The stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis is likely to be charged with murder, a prosecutor said.
Derion Vence, described by police as the girl’s stepfather, told officers that he was with her and his 1-year-old son on May 4 when they were accosted by three men he described as Hispanic.
Vence said he was driving to pick up the girl’s mother, Brittany Bowens, when he was forced to pull over after he heard a noise that sounded like he got a flat tire. When he got out of his car, the men approached him and knocked him out. When he came to, he was in a different place and Maleah was gone.
In court documents filed on May 11, after Vence was arrested on a charge of tampering with evidence, an assistant district attorney for Harris County said that Vence would likely be charged with murder.
“There is a substantial likelihood that additional charges may be forthcoming, including but not limited to the first-degree felony offense of murder,” the district attorney wrote, arguing for the defendant to be held on a $1 million bond, reported CNN.
Vence told police that the men stole his vehicle; the car was found on May 9 in a parking lot in suburban Houston. The next day, surveillance pictures showing Vence carrying a black bag in a laundry basket prior to Maleah’s disappearance were released. Then, Vence was arrested and charged with tampering with evidence.
Police said in a statement announcing the arrest, “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.”
“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 department added.
Police officials previously said that there were “holes” in Vence’s story and said he changed his story multiple times.
Bowens, Maleah’s mother, said through a representative that Vence was her ex-fiancé and that she’d recently called off the engagement.
“When that happened, I believe that he psychologically snapped—already on top of being abusive to Maleah. He did this to hurt the mother in a way that she would never recover,” civil rights activist Quanell X, who is representing Bowens, told CBS over the weekend.
Volunteers have scoured the area around where Maleah was allegedly abducted for clues to her whereabouts but haven’t found her as yet.
BOMBSHELL ALLEGATIONS – Mom of missing #MaleahDavis makes stunning claims. Community activist Quanell X accused the stepfather of abuse. He claimed to have surveillance video of Vence carrying, items including bleach, from the family’s apartment. #abc13 https://t.co/WjSPCu4QzC
— Steve Campion (@SteveABC13) May 10, 2019
Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch, which was assisting in the search, told CBS that he’s hoping she’s alive.
“I would like to hold onto that hope that she’s alive out there somewhere,” said Miller.
Vence was due in court on Monday morning.