US

Reward for Missing Girl Maleah Davis Increased as Police Say Suspect Knows Location of Body

By Zachary Stieber

The reward for finding missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis has been increased to $20,000 as police officials said the suspect in the case, Maleah’s “stepfather” Derion Vence, knows where the girl’s body can be found.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a press conference on May 23 that officials need help from the public finding Maleah’s resting place because Vence isn’t cooperating.

“The evidence shows that we believe she has been murdered. Let’s bring this baby home, proper burial,” he said, reported KTRK. “Without finding that body, there is a hole left out there. We want to give them the closure, of both charges and finding her body.”

He said that Vence, the ex-fiance of Maleah’s mother Brittany Bowens and described as the main caretaker of Maleah and two other children, has told police officers tall tales about what happened to the girl.

Derion Vence at the hospital after he said he was accosted by three Hispanic men. (Houston Police Department)

“You could drive a big rig right through the tales this guy has been telling,” Acevedo said.

“We strongly believe he knows where she’s at and if he wanted to tell us, he would,” Acevedo added, reported KPRC. “Our focus right now is to find this little baby. Our focus is getting her, recovering her body. I could sit here and say we’re going to find her alive, but I’d be lying.”

Acevedo said a $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the finding of Maleah while two people from Louisiana, Ronnie and Karen Bias, announced they were offering $10,000 for information on the case. Acevedo said that the pair is also known as uncle Dude and Nene. Another $5,000 was offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest and prosecution in the case.

Vence originally told police that he was with Maleah and his 1-year-old son on May 4 when they were accosted in Houston by three men he described as Hispanic. He said they knocked him out and when he came to he and his son were in Sugar Land and Maleah was gone.

Vence was arrested on May 11 and charged with tampering with evidence. A prosecutor said that he would likely be charged with murder.

The search for Maleah has been ongoing and included an area along Vence’s former mail route.

Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch, a group helping with the search for Maleah, said that Vence told his mother-in-law that he could hide a body in Rosharon if he ever killed anybody.

“He actually said to his mother-in-law a year ago, he said, ‘man, if I ever killed anybody, I’ve got some places down in Rosharon where they’d never find the body,’” Miller told the Houston Chronicle. Family members confirmed the mother-in-law’s account, he said.

The search of the area, like other searches for Maleah, turned up little evidence of her whereabouts.

Brittany Bowens, the mother of the missing 4-year-old, Meleah Davis is followed down the street by protesters
Brittany Bowens, the mother of the missing 4-year-old, Meleah Davis is followed down the street by protesters, 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)

Bowens has pinned blame on Maleah’s disappearance on Vence but his family members have insisted he is innocent and some confronted her at court earlier this month, saying she knew what happened to her daughter.

At the press conference Thursday, officials indicated that in addition to Vence, Bowens and others are also not cooperating with them.

“We are not receiving the level of cooperation that we need from anybody involved,” Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard said, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Chief Acevedo urged people again to help find Maleah.

“She deserves to be found,” he said. “She deserves to be recovered. She deserves to have a proper burial.”