Remains Of Missing Texas 4-Year-Old Maleah Davis Found Along Arkansas Interstate

Suspect Derion Vence allegedly confessed to a community activist to killing the girl and dumping her body hundreds of miles away from her Houston-area home. 

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Authorities have discovered the remains of Maleah Davis, the 4-year-old Texas girl who went missing a month ago.

Investigators on Friday discovered a child’s remains along Interstate 30 in southwest Arkansas, the Houston Chronicle reports. The discovery comes after community activist Quanell X told authorities that he’d spoken to the girl’s stepfather, Derion Vence, and that he confessed during the jailhouse conversation to killing the child and disposing of her body hundreds of miles away in Arkansas, the paper reports. Based on that information, investigators traveled to Hempstead County, where her remains were ultimately discovered.

Workers mowing the area near the interstate first discovered the black garbage bag, seemingly stained with blood, earlier this week, but they assumed that the smell coming from it was a dead animal and did not disturb it, Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton said, according to the Houston Chronicle. A mower then struck the bag early on Friday, ripping it open and scattering what was inside, Singleton said.

After police transported the remains to Houston, medical examiners in Harris County were able to confirm that the remains were that of Maleah Davis, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. However, details regarding how the child died are still pending, according to the office.

Davis was first declared missing last month after her stepfather told police that he was with the child and Davis’ 2-year-old brother when he was attacked on the side of the road by a group of three Hispanic men, who knocked him unconscious before abducting the girl. He reported the incident after arriving at a hospital the following day, claiming that he'd slipped into an out of consciousness for nearly 24 hours following the attack. He told police that the abductors took his car, but surveillance footage later showed him being dropped off at a hospital in that same car, according to the Associated Press.

Quanell X told the Houston Chronicle that Vence admitted to him that he killed his stepdaughter and said that he did not do it on purpose.

“He says it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped her body. He felt like he was just totally overwhelmed, because Brittany wasn’t being the mother she should be being,” Quanell said, referencing the child’s mother, Brittany Bowens.

“He said that he pulled over in Arkansas, got out of the car, walked to the side of the road, and dumped the body off the road,” Quanell continued.

HPD Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner suggested Friday that murder charges may be in store for Vence, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The 27-year-old was charged last month with tampering with a human corpse after authorities say they found blood in the bathroom of the apartment that he shared with the girl’s mother, the Chronicle previously reported. Police dogs also picked up the scent of human decomposition in a car authorities believe that he had been driving, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Police also said that Vence was caught on camera leaving the apartment with a laundry basket with a black trash bag inside that appeared heavy, the Houston Chronicle previously reported. He left the apartment a second time with cleaning supplies, and the car that police believe he was driving the day that Davis disappeared was later found with a laundry basket and gas can in the trunk.

Vence was arrested May 11 and his bond set at $999,999, according to the Associated Press.

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