HOUSTON (CN) – The case of a missing 4-year-old Texas girl came to a gruesome end Monday as officials said remains found near an interstate exit ramp nearly six hours from where she disappeared have been identified as hers.
Maleah Davis and her mother’s ex-fiance, Derion Vence, were on their way to the airport in Houston last month when three men intercepted the vehicle and kidnapped the child – or so Vence claimed.
Last week, authorities discovered a child’s remains in a black garbage bag off Interstate 30 near Fulton, Arkansas. Medical examiners said Monday morning they positively identified the recovered remains as Davis’ after they were flown back to Houston on Saturday.
Vence, who is currently held at the Harris County jail on evidence-tampering charges, reportedly confessed to Houston community activist Quanell X on Friday that he had dumped Davis’ body at that location in Arkansas.
Workers in the area had discovered the remains earlier in the week in a grassy embankment next to Interstate 30. One of them struck the bag with a mower, but assumed it was a discarded animal and left the bag alone.
After Davis was reported missing on May 4, Vence told police that he, Davis and his 2-year-old son had been abducted by three men in a blue pickup truck while they were on the way to the airport the previous day to pick up Davis’ mother, Brittany Bowens. Vence never made it to the airport.
Vence said at the time he heard a tire blow on his 2011 Nissan Altima, so he pulled over to change it. He claimed the men pulled up next to the car, knocked him unconscious, and drove the three of them to a different location. Vence said he discovered that Davis was missing after he awoke hours later.
But he was arrested on May 11 after investigators found blood in his apartment and too many discrepancies in his initial story. He was charged with tampering with evidence, specifically a human corpse.
Before Davis’ body was found Friday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement that prosecutors would not offer Vence a plea agreement and would “continue to work with the Houston Police Department to bring justice for Maleah Davis.”
On Monday, the district attorney’s spokesman Dane Schiller said additional charges could be filed against Vence, depending on what evidence investigators discover. Vence’s arraignment is scheduled for July 10 at 9 a.m.