AP NEWS

Blood linked to missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis found in stepfather’s apartment, police say

May 12, 2019

Investigators say they found drops of blood in the apartment of Derion Vence, the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis.

Vence is being held on $1 million bond after being charged on Saturday with “tampering with evidence — human corpse,” according to a probable cause document filed by Harris County authorities.

He’d previously told investigators that Maleah had gone missing after he was carjacked by a group of men. Her whereabouts are still unknown.

Investigators now say in charging documents that they found blood in the hallway and bathroom of the home that Vence shared with Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens.

Tests of the blood, investigators said, “showed that the major component is consistent with being from a person who is the maternal offspring of Brittany Bowens.”

Investigators also said that Vence, who went missing after reporting Maleah’s disappearance, can be seen on surveillance footage leaving his apartment with a laundry basket that had “a large black trash bag inside.”

Investigators “observed from the video that the basket appears heavy due to the stance (Vence) uses when walking,” court records show.

Vence returned to his apartment roughly three minutes later without the basket, investigators said. He then walked out of the apartment with cleaning supplies, including bleach, investigators said.

Cadaver dogs responded to the scent of decomposition after sniffing Vence’s car and other vehicles in the parking lot. Investigators also found a gas can in the car that Bowens says did not belong to her.

Vence, 26, was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitives Task Force at a relative’s home in Sugar Land without incident.

He had been missing since he reported Maleah’s disappearance, and police had been “actively searching” for him. As recently as five days ago, investigators did not publicly identify the stepfather a suspect or a person of interest in the girl’s disappearance, though Houston Police Sgt. Mark Holbrook told reporters Monday that there were “a lot of blanks” in his story.

He told police that he pulled over to check a flat tire around 9 p.m. May 3 while driving to Bush Intercontinental Airport to pick up Brittany Bowens, who had been away at a funeral. He said he was with Maleah and his 1-year-old son when three men approached him and knocked him unconscious near Interstate 69 and Greens Road. He claimed he blacked out until 6 p.m. Saturday.

When he awoke, he was in Sugar Land with the boy, but Maleah was gone, he told police. He said he walked to Houston Methodist Hospital four hours later and reported the girl missing and the Nissan Altima he was driving stolen.

Police revealed Saturday that surveillance video shows someone in that Nissan Altima dropped Vence off at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital on May 5.

That car was recovered in a Missouri City parking lot Thursday morning, with a laundry basket and gas can in the trunk, police said.

robert.downen@chron.com