US

‘Justice for Maleah!’ Protesters Say Missing Girl’s Mother Should Be Charged

By Zachary Stieber

Protesters gathered in Texas on May 13, calling for the mother of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis to be arrested and charged.

A man described by police as Maleah’s stepfather, who the girl’s mother said is her ex-fiance, was arrested over the weekend. Derion Vence was slated to appear in court on Monday but the appearance was pushed back to July 10, reported KHOU. Court records obtained by the broadcaster also showed that Vence’s bond was reduced to $45,000 from nearly $1 million.

As some volunteers continued searching for Maleah, other community members gathered outside the courtroom where Vence was scheduled to appear. Brittany Bowens, Maleah’s mother, was inside the courtroom waiting for Vence to appear until the judge announced the hearing was reset.

Protesters chanted at Bowens, accusing her of being involved in the disappearance of her girl.

After the hearing was canceled, Bowens’ representative Quannel X told reporters that she was trying to focus on finding her daughter.

“The main thing right now that all of us want to know is what did he do with Maleah,” he said. “Where is Maleah?”

As Quanell X spoke to reporters, he was drowned out by a group of people, including some family members of Maleah’s father who yelled “she let it happen” and “Brittany knew all along.”

Quanell X previously alleged that Vence might have abused Maleah and that Bowens should have told police about it.

quanell x with bowens
Quanell X walks out of the courtroom with Brittany Bowens, the mother of the missing 4-year-old, Meleah Davis after the court postponed a court appearance for Derion Vence, who is charged with tampering with evidence in the case of Meleah Davis’ disappearance in Houston on May 13, 2019. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

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, according to an agency spokeswoman. 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, Quanell X declined to comment, saying, “I’m not going to speak to that.”

Vence was charged with tampering with evidence but officials had indicated that he was likely going to be charged with murder, indicating that authorities believe that the girl is dead.

Tamisha Mendoza, a cousin of Maleah’s father, Craig Davis, said she questioned why Bowens stayed with Vence if she suspected he was hurting her daughter. “You’re just as guilty as (Vence). She needs to be locked up along with him,” Mendoza said.

The group kept yelling as Bowens exited the building.

Quanell X walks out of the courtroom with Brittany Bowens in Houston
Quanell X walks out of the courtroom with Brittany Bowens in Houston, on May 13, 2019. ( Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

“Justice for Maleah! Justice for Maleah!” the group chanted. As Bowens entered an elevator, someone yelled “Murderer,” reported KTRK. The person added: “Where is she?”

Several people followed the mother down the street, reported the Houston Chronicle. After a woman handed her a poster and hugged her, she started crying.

The scene came after pictures were released showing the last time Maleah was seen alive.

Vence claimed that he was in Houston on May 4 with Maleah and his 1-year-old son when he was forced to pull over. When he got out of his car, he claimed, three Hispanic men driving a blue pickup truck approached him. When he came to, he was in Sugar Land and Maleah was gone.

Police said Vence changed his story multiple times and eventually arrested him on Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.