Maleah Davis case: Missing Houston girl had recently been removed from home over abuse allegations

A 4-year-old Houston girl who was reported missing on Saturday evening had been removed from her home last year over allegations of abuse but was later returned.

Maleah Davis and her two brothers were temporarily taken from their parents' custody in August 2018 and placed in the care of relatives after Maleah suffered a head injury, officials with state Child Protective Services in Houston told the Associated Press.

The children were returned to the care of their mother and stepfather in February 2019 and CPS caseworkers have been monitoring the home since then.

Police have been searching for the missing child since Saturday, when her stepfather, Darion Vence, filed a report claiming Maleah was abducted while they were on the way to pick up her mother at Bush Intercontinental Airport around 9 p.m. on Friday evening. 

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4-year-old Maleah Davis goes missing in Texas
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4-year-old Maleah Davis goes missing in Texas
CORRECTS FIRST NAME TO DERION This undated photo provided by the Houston Police Dept. shows Derion Vence. Vence, the man who reported 4-year-old Maleah Davis had been abducted from him last weekend was arrested near Houston Saturday, May 11, 2019 in connection with her disappearance and police say they have found blood in his apartment linked to her. (Houston Police Dept. via AP)
Maleah Davis
2/2: Photo of assault victim, Mr. Darion Vence, who is Maleah's stepfather, stated he was unconscious for almost 24… https://t.co/BZzJOakhb1
1/2: Photos displayed at the media briefing: first is victim's stolen car, a silver 2011 Nissan Altima with TX pape… https://t.co/XwFI2cELMQ
Maleah Davis
Maleah Davis
Jim Reynolds, with Texas EquuSearch, conducts a search for Maleah Davis Monday, May 6, 2019, in Humble, Texas. Houston police are trying to determine what happened to the 4-year-old girl after her stepfather said she was taken by men who released him and his 2-year-old son after abducting them as well. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Members of Texas EquuSearch conduct a search for four-year-old Maleah Davis Monday, May 6, 2019, in Humble, Texas. Houston police are trying to determine what happened to the 4-year-old girl after her stepfather said she was taken by men who released him and his 2-year-old son after abducting them as well. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Sgt. Mark Holbrook gives an update about Maleah Davis, a four-year-old girl missing since Saturday night, during a news conference at the Houston Police Department headquarters, Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Annie Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Sgt. Mark Holbrook gives an update about Maleah Davis, a four-year-old girl missing since Saturday night, during a news conference at the Houston Police Department headquarters, Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Annie Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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Vence told police he heard a "popping noise" while driving down a highway and pulled over, believing the sound was a flat tire. Vence, who was also with his own son, 2-year-old Kourtland, at the time, said that a blue Chevy truck with three Hispanic men inside pulled up behind the family's car and approached him.

Houston police Sgt. Mark Holbrook told reporters that Vence claimed one of the men made a comment to him that "Maleah looks very nice, looks very sweet," before hitting him on the head and knocking him unconscious.

Vence told police that he woke up in the back of the men's truck with Maleah and Kourtland but that he passed out again and drifted in and out of consciousness until about 6 p.m. on Saturday when he woke up off of Highway 6 in Sugar Land with just his son. His vehicle was also allegedly missing. 

He then walked to a nearby hospital where he reported the incident and received treatment for his head injury.

"I realize there's a lot of blanks in that story, but we're hoping that the public fill in the blanks," Sgt. Holbrook said at the time.

However, by Tuesday night, Vence's account had "changed several times" following multiple police interviews, a spokesperson for the Sugar Land police department said.

The Houston police department, which is leading the investigation into the girl's disappearance, told the Associated Press that the case is ongoing and that it won't identify "persons of interest or suspects unless charges are filed."

Maleah has undergone multiple brain surgeries to help heal the head injury she sustained in August, including one in the past two months. Her family says she is currently in desperate need of medical care. 

The missing girl has black hair and brown eyes, stands at about 3 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 to 40 pounds. She was last seen wearing a light blue Under Armour jacket, blue jeans and gray Under Armour tennis shoes with pink and white details.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call 713-308-3600.

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