The mother of Maleah Davis is holding out hope her daughter will be found unharmed, though it's been nearly three weeks since the little girl was pictured with the man authorities suspect is responsible for her disappearance.
“As a mother, I want to hope that she is [still alive],” Brittany Bowens told KTRK-TV.
Surveillance footage pictured Maleah, 4, entering her Houston apartment with her mother’s ex-fiance, Derion Vence, on April 30. It was the last time the little girl was seen alive, authorities said.
That same day, Bowens ended her engagement to Vence before leaving her daughter and the son she shares with Vence in his care while she flew to Massachusetts for her father’s funeral.
"I didn't know that after burying my father, I'd have to come home to this," Bowens said.
Vence was arrested in connection to Maleah’s disappearance after reporting her missing May 4. Police said he claimed to have been attacked by men who abducted Maleah the night before.
"I wanted to believe it, I really really wanted to believe that story," Bowens told KTRK-TV of Vence’s account of what happened to Maleah. "The thought of him actually doing something to her, or something worse, something gruesome...."
But according to police, Vence’s story “did not add up,” and after reporting Maleah missing, he began ignoring Bowens’ calls and texts as well as denied her an in-person meeting, Bowens’ spokesman, Quanell X, said.
It’s a lack of answers that has devastated Bowens, who relayed a list of questions she’s replayed over and over since Maleah vanished.
"Where is she? How did she feel before?” Bowens said. “What was she thinking about? Will I ever find out what really happened to her?"
Vence is being held on charges of tampering with a human corpse, according to Harris County jail records. He was due in court last week, but his hearing was rescheduled and could be delayed until July.
Bowens attended Vence’s scheduled court appearance and was met with protesters who viewed her actions suspiciously.
“Why isn’t she locked up?” one heckler reportedly yelled outside court.
“She let it happen,” another said.
But Bowens told KTRK-TV she had nothing to do with Maleah’s disappearance.
"People are entitled to however they think, to however they feel, to their own opinions," she said. "I know my truth. And I love my daughter unconditionally ... I don't have it in my heart to do anything like that."