Brittany Bowens, the mother of Maleah Davis, the Houston 4-year-old who has been missing since May 4, said she believes her daughter is dead and that Derion Vence, Bowens' ex-fiancé, has harmed her.
Vence, 26, is facing criminal charges in connection with the little girl's disappearance, according to Houston police. He is being charged with tampering with evidence of a human corpse after police found traces of blood evidence linked to Maleah in the bathroom and hallway of the apartment he shared with Bowens and Maleah. After testing, police also found spots where blood had been cleaned up.
Police are continuing their search for Maleah, and have not said whether they believe she's dead.
Derion Vence's Shifting Story
Vence originally told police that he was on his way to pick up Bowens from the George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Friday, May 3, with Maleah and his 1-year-old son. When he pulled over to check for a flat tire, he said three Latino men attacked him and knocked him unconscious. He said that he regained consciousness around 6 p.m. on Saturday, and found himself on the roadside in Sugar Land, TX, which is about 40 miles from the airport. His son was there, but Maleah was gone. He later went to a nearby hospital, where he reported the girl missing and his car, a Nissan Altima, stolen.
But police said surveillance video showed Vence getting dropped off at the hospital in the silver Altima on Sunday. On Thursday, they found the car in a parking lot in nearby Missouri City, TX, where police dogs responded "to the scent of human decomposition in the vehicle," Harris County prosecutor Pat Stayton said at a court hearing Saturday.
"During the initial interview, the man's story did change several times and some of what he told us just didn't add up," Doug Adolph, spokesperson for the Sugar Land police, said to local ABC station KTRK.
Last Images Of Maleah Davis Seen Alive
Security footage, believed to be the last images of Maleah seen alive, shows Vence and the girl walking into the apartment on April 30, the day Bowens left town to attend her father's funeral and left her daughter in Vence's care. She was never seen coming out.
Footage from May 3 reportedly shows Vence carrying multiple bottles of bleach in and out of the apartment and a laundry basket containing a black garbage bag. Police said they found the laundry basket in the trunk of the Nissan Altima, along with a gas can.
"When he spoke to the mother, he told her he was cleaning up the apartment. And she didn’t understand why he would be cleaning up the apartment, but he went and bought an extra bottle of Clorox and came back," Bowens' spokesperson and community activist Quanell X said in a press conference on Friday.
"Many people did not know that he dismembered this beautiful baby," Quanell X told local station KHOU. "Why would human body tissue be in the drain system? Why would human body tissue be under the pipes in the sink, in the pipes under the bathtub, why would that be?"
This is heartbreaking to see, especially on #MothersDay. Surveillance pics show the last time sources say Maleah Davis was seen alive. She was wearing a pink tutu and walking into her apartment with her mom’s ex-fiancé. Police say she never came out again. https://t.co/OwSM1roTDV pic.twitter.com/IqzZOFfEoz— Pooja Lodhia (@PoojaOnTV) May 12, 2019
Maleah Davis' Injuries
Maleah had had multiple brain surgeries, and she and her two brothers were removed from their residence by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) in 2018. They were returned in February, the DFPS told CNN, but a judge regularly checked in on the family. Police didn't identify a reason for the brain surgeries, but Quanell X alleged that Vence had a history of abusing Maleah.
"He confronted [Bowens] and threatened her, that 'She better not do it.' So she helped him shield the truth of that abuse of Maleah from doctors," Quanell X said, according to Fox 26.
In an interview with CNN, Bowens said she and Vence did not abuse Maleah. "[W]e're not those kinds of people."
WHERE IS MALEAH? Protesters accused Maleah Davis' mom of not doing enough to protect her 4-year-old daughter. She is still missing, and the mom's ex-fiance has been charged with tampering with evidence, namely a corpse. https://t.co/EAFcA8Y6fu pic.twitter.com/qrOCVe5DAY— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) May 13, 2019
Brittany Bowens' Backstory
In the press conference, Quanell X said that Bowens recently broke off her engagement with Vence after she allegedly discovered that he had sent sexually explicit images of himself to another man. "She told him that she was giving back his ring, and that she was not going to marry him," he said. "I believe that caused him to snap in anger against young Maleah."
Vence is being held in jail. On Monday, a judge reduced his bail from $999,999 to $45,000, according to jail records.
The police is asking anyone with information on this case to contact the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS.