Houston, Texas Police have confirmed that Derion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis, was taken into custody on Saturday at a relative’s home in Sugar Land by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.
The news station reports that a judge set Vence’s bond at $1 million on a count of “tampering with evidence, namely a corpse.” Officials have not confirmed if Maleah dead, however, investigators reportedly do not think she is still alive.
Newly released surveillance footage also shows the last time Maleah was seen alive outside her family’s apartment complex on April 30, the same day her mother left town to attend a funeral.
Vence was seen bringing her back into the apartment that morning.
However, on May 3, the cameras also captured Vence leaving the apartment with his 1-year-old son, a laundry basket, and a black trash bag. No sign of Maleah.
Police say that there is blood evidence from the apartment linked to the little girl.
The laundry basket was also found with a gas can in the trunk of the vehicle that was reported stolen by Vence, but was later found by a taxi driver in a Missouri City parking lot.
That same vehicle was also captured on surveillance footage on May 5 outside the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, where someone dropped of Vence.
Vence had said earlier that he had walked to the hospital after he claimed he was attacked and that Maleah may have been kidnapped.
In earlier reports, Vence claimed that he, Maleah and his son were traveling to the airport last Friday to pick up Maleah’s mother on her return home from a trip when he heard a “popping noise.”
When he got out of the car to check the tire, he claimed two Hispanic men approached him and knocked him out. He went in and out of consciousness before he woke up the following evening. His son was with him, but Maleah was gone.
It was revealed in early reports that Maleah had several brain surgeries recently in her young life, due to a head injury that her mother, Brittany Bowens, insisted was the result of falling off of a chair. Doctors suspected abuse.
Later on, Bowens would accuse Vence of abusing Maleah.
“On the day that Brittany left to be with her sick father — her dying father — to be with family, there was a huge fight between her and him,” community activist Quanell X told KTRK in an earlier interview. “He was hurt, he was angry, he was upset.”
Bowens broke off her engagement to Vence, which Quanell said made him “snap.”
“She told him she was giving back his ring and that she was not going to marry him. I believe that caused him to snap in anger,” Quanell said. “There is a reason to believe, based on what I know now, there’s issues of him possibly molesting young Maleah.”
Maleah was last seen wearing a pink bow in her hair, a light blue zip jacket, blue jeans and gray, white and pink sneakers. She is about 30-40 pounds and is about 3 feet tall.
Houston police is urging anyone with information to contact them at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.