Texas police have said it’s unlikely that they’ll find missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis alive.
Maleah was last spotted on surveillance footage with her mom’s ex-fiance, 26-year-old Derion Vence, on April 30. She’d been left in his care while her mother, Brittany Bowens, attended her father’s funeral.
Vence was seen taking Maleah into their Houston home, but days later, he left the apartment with his son and a laundry basket with a trash bag in it, according to authorities.
"The evidence shows that we believe she has been murdered. Let's bring this baby home, proper burial," Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo told reporters Thursday. "Without finding that body, there is a hole left out there.
"We want to give them the closure, of both charges and finding her body."
Vence told police Maleah was kidnapped by three men who knocked him unconscious while stealing his car, but his story later fell apart, according to authorities.
Vence reported Maleah missing on May 5 and an Amber Alert was issued.
When police found the car that had allegedly been stolen, cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains.
"You could drive a big rig right through the tales this guy has been telling," Acevedo said of Vence’s alleged lies. "I can sit here and say we're going to find her alive, but I'd be lying to you."
Vence has since been arrested on suspicion of tampering with evidence, police said. Vence has reportedly not been cooperative with police. He is being held on $45,000 bail and has not entered a plea.
"We're hopeful that the public hasn't forgotten about little miss Davis, this little angel that went missing," Acevedo said. "We're still calling for the public to think back on what they may have seen — any suspicious vehicle behavior, anything that they may know [to help] this case."
For his part, Vence's father, Joe Vence Sr., insists his son is innocent and instead is pointing the finger at Bowens, Maleah's mom.
“Yeah, I believe my son is innocent and I believe his story," Joe told Melvin Cedeno of the IckedMel YouTube Channel. "Derion had those kids most of the time, he's the one who took care of the kids.”
Saying that his son has been framed by Bowens, Joe shot down her claims that Derion sexually and physically abused the little girl.
“Why would you leave your child at home with him if he's doing all of these things?" Joe said.