HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis' stepfather, Derion Vence, has been charged with tampering with evidence, notably a human corpse.
His court date, which was set for Monday, May 13, has been rescheduled. His bond has been set for $999,999.
Vence, 26, was taken into custody on Saturday by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force. They arrested him at a relative's Sugar Land residence without incident.
Houston police say blood evidence found at Vence's apartment has been linked to Maleah.
They also reviewed the neighbor's surveillance camera, that Quanell X and Maleah's mom Brittany talked about at a press conference. Police confirm Vence is seen in the video carrying a laundry basket stuffed with a full garbage bag. He's also seen with multiple bottles of bleach.
Authorities found Vence's silver Nissan Altima in a commercial parking lot in Missouri City The laundry basket from the surveillance footage was also found in the trunk of the car along with a gas can.
This comes a day after his ex-fiancée, Brittany Bowens, and her representative, Quanell X, made allegations against Vence, implicating him with Maleah's possible murder, among accusations of explicit photos sent to men.
Following Vence's arrest, Quanell X told FOX 26 the mother feels like she failed her daughter.
"She’s devastated that she knows she could have done a whole lost more in better protecting Maleah on several different fronts," Quanell X said over the phone. "But, of course, hindsight is 20/20. But, the telltale signs were there and so the mother is beating herself up."
Vence reported to police that on May 4, he was on his way to George Bush Intercontinental Airport when he heard a sound that made him think his silver Nissan Altima had a flat tire. He pulled over on U.S. Highway 59 near Greens Road.
Vence told police Maleah was then taken by three Hispanic males in their 30s, driving a 2010 blue Chevrolet crew cab pickup truck. Due to injuries he said he suffered during the abduction, he reportedly lost consciousness for about 24 hours, regaining it on Sunday, May 5. He said he found himself on foot in Sugar Land and walked to Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital for treatment. He then reported Maleah missing.
Although Vence reported his silver Nissan Altima was taken in the abduction, surveillance video showed someone in that Nissan Altima dropped Vence off at the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital on May 5, according to HPD Homicide Division Sergeant J. Horn, Detective K. McDonald and Officer J. Escobar.
Volunteers, authorities, and Texas Equusearch has been actively searching for Maleah, weather allowing, since her disappearance. The search continues on Saturday.
Maleah was reported missing around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 and has not been seen since.
Child Protective Services (CPS) confirmed that Maleah, 4, and her two brothers, 5 and 1, were removed from their mother Brittany Bowen's care in August 2018 by CPS. According to CPS, the removal was due to allegations of physical abuse related to Maleah’s head injury, which required several brain surgeries.
Anyone with information on this case, the whereabouts of Maleah Davis, or who knows who sold the gas can (pictures above) to Vence is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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