Maleah Davis case: Missing Houston girl's remains found

Police have identified the remains of missing Houston girl Maleah Davis, which were found over 300 miles away from her hometown. 

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences confirmed Monday that the remains of a child found near Hope, Ark., last Friday are those of 4-year-old Davis, who was reported missing on May 3. The remains were found near a freeway just outside of the city, after Darion Vence, the ex-fiancé of Davis' mother, told a community activist that he left the child's body there. 

Sheriff James Singleton in Arkansas' Hempstead County told CBS that police had begun scouring the area last Friday at the request of Houston authorities. A work crew in the neighboring town of Fulton reportedly discovered a black garbage bag with an unavoidable stench off the side of a road shortly thereafter. The remains inside were later flown to Houston to determine the child's identity. 

Last month, Vence told police that he brought Davis and his own son, 1-year-old Kourtland, with him to pick up Davis' mother at Bush Intercontinental Airport around 9 p.m. At one point, he said he heard what sounded like a "popping noise." Vence said he then pulled his car over under the impression that he had a flat tire, when three Hispanic men allegedly jumped out of a blue Chevrolet truck, made a comment about the girl and knocked him unconscious. 

Vence told authorities that he woke up in the back of the truck with the two children but drifted in and out of consciousness until about 6 p.m the next day. By then, he had found himself off of Highway 6 in Sugar Land with just his son, he said. 

At the time of Davis' disappearance, Houston police said they were skeptical of Vence's account. Davis had last been seen alive on April 30 when she was caught on surveillance camera entering her family's apartment with Vence — the same day Davis' mother, Brittany Bowens, flew out for a funeral. 

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

Vence was later arrested on May 11 after blood was found in his apartment and traces of human decomposition were discovered in his trunk. He was booked under suspicion of "tampering with evidence, namely a corpse" and was held on $1 million bond. Testing eventually confirmed that the blood evidence matched Davis' DNA. 

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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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Several days later, Houston police worked with members of the Texas EquuSearch search and rescue organization to comb through Rosharon, an unincorporated community in Brazoria County. Vence had reportedly made a suspicious comment that prompted police to take action. 

"He actually told his mother-in-law a year ago, 'If I ever murder someone I can dump a body in Rosharon, that will never be found,'" EquuSearch Founder and Director Tim Miller told CNN

On Friday, however, Vence purportedly told local civil rights activist Quanell X, who visited him in jail, that Davis died by accident and that he drove to Arkansas to dump the girl's body. Quanell X, who had previously served as a spokesperson for Davis' mother, told CBS that he was no longer representing her because he thinks she knows what happened to the child. She has not yet been charged in relation to Davis' disappearance. 

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