Stepfather of Missing 4-Year-Old Maleah Davis Arrested

May 11, 2019 Updated: May 11, 2019

The man who reported that a 4-year-old Texas girl had been abducted from him last weekend was arrested near Houston on May 11 and police say they found blood in his apartment linked to the girl.

Derion Vence was arrested without incident at his brother’s home in Sugar Land, Texas, about 22 miles southwest of Houston, a statement from Houston police said. He was charged with tampering with evidence.

Vence told police last Saturday that men in a pickup truck abducted him, 4-year-old Maleah Davis and his 2-year-old son before freeing him and the boy. But Sugar Land police, who initially interviewed him, said his story kept changing and didn’t add up.

Houston police said Saturday that some details of his story turned out to be false. Vence reported his silver Nissan Altima was taken in the abduction but a surveillance video showed that vehicle was used to drop Vence off later at a hospital, where he reported the abduction, police said.

“Blood evidence obtained from Vence’s apartment has been linked to Maleah,” the Houston police statement said.

Vence also was observed carrying a full laundry basket from the apartment, police said. That basket was later found in the trunk of the Nissan along with a gas can.

The gas can found in Derion Vence's Nissan
The gas can found in Derion Vence’s Nissan. (Houston Police Dept)

Maleah’s mother Brittany Bowens, said Vence is her former fiance. Bowens appeared outside her apartment Friday as Quanell X, a local civil rights activist, addressed reporters on her behalf.

Quanell X said that Vence had abused Maleah and that Bowens believes Vence harmed the girl.

Police have described Vence as Maleah’s stepfather. But Quanell X said that Vence and Bowens were recently in a fight and she broke off their engagement.

Child Protective Services removed Maleah and her brothers from the home 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.

Maleah Davis. (Houston Police Department)

Maleah’s Mother Pleads for Her Return

Bowens told CNN’s Nick Valencia on Friday she doesn’t believe Vence and that he bears some responsibility for the girl’s disappearance.

At a news conference later, community activist Quanell X said, “The mother did not want to believe, by any stretch of the imagination, that this man is capable of what is obvious that has taken place here.”

Bowens did not speak during the news conference. She cried and covered her face as she stood next to the activist.

Quanell X told reporters that he has seen video surveillance from a neighbor’s camera that shows Vence leaving the apartment with a bottle of bleach and a laundry basket with a garbage bag in it. CNN has not seen the video.

CNN affiliate KTRK aired an image from the camera that purportedly shows Vence carrying a laundry basket with a dark garbage bag. According to Quanell X, Vence told Bowens that he was cleaning the apartment.

While speaking with reporters, the activist made explosive allegations against Vence and said Bowens was going to meet with police Friday to share information disclosed at the news conference.

Allegations of Abuse

Maleah and her two brothers were taken from their home and placed with a relative after allegations of abuse last year, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services told CNN.

Bowens said the children had not been abused, and that Maleah’s head injury, which led to the allegations, was only discovered after a number of hospital visits. Maleah was first treated for a strange lethargy, and a week later, she fell and cut her head while sitting at a table. The doctors discharged Maleah without performing a CT scan, Bowens said.

Maleah had a seizure five days later, and that’s when doctors discovered bleeding on the left side of her brain and operated on her, Bowens said.

Maleah Davis2
Maleah Davis. (Houston Police Department)

Child Protective Services showed up a few days later, Bowens said.

“They didn’t find anything because we’re not those kinds of people,” she said.

But authorities soon placed Maleah and her two brothers with relatives, where they stayed until a judge ordered them to be returned home in February.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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