Houston police chief asks public to help to find girl's body

HOUSTON (AP) — The police chief in Houston said Thursday that evidence shows a 4-year-old girl who has been missing since earlier this month was killed, and he's asking for the public's help in finding her body.

"She deserves to be found, she deserves to be recovered and she deserves to have a proper burial," Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference.

Maleah Davis was reported missing earlier this month by her mother's former fiance, Derion Vence. He told police that he, Maleah and his 2-year-old son were abducted on May 3 by a group of men in a truck after he pulled over on a Houston highway. He said he and his son were freed the next day, but the kidnappers kept Maleah and his vehicle. Police later said the story didn't add up.

Acevedo said Thursday that he believes Vence knows where the child is but has not told police. Vence is being held on a charge of tampering with evidence, specifically a human corpse. Investigators found blood in Vence's apartment and search dogs detected the scent of human decomposition in his car when it was found.

Related: 4-year-old Maleah Davis goes missing in Texas

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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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"We strongly believe he knows where she's at and if he wanted to tell us, he would," the chief said.

Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard, who also spoke at the news conference, said: "We are not receiving the level of cooperation we need from anybody involved at this point."

In addition to asking anyone who may have seen something or has information about the case to come forward, Acevedo also implored the public to be vigilant when out in places that are not heavily traveled, such as hiking trails and wooded areas. He said to look out for things like out-of-place soil.

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