The search for missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis was suspended Wednesday, as officials pressed for more tips on specific areas to look for the Texas girl.
Most recently, volunteers with Texas EquuSearch had been combing places along Derion Vence's onetime mail route in Rosharon. Vence, who had been referred to by authorities as Maleah’s stepfather, is in custody for alleged evidence tampering and is considered a suspect in Maleah's disappearance by police.
He had once allegedly described the route as an ideal place to hide a corpse, according to Texas EquuSearch Founder and Director Tim Miller.
"He actually told his mother-in-law a year ago, 'If I ever murder someone, I can dump a body in Rosharon that will never be found,'" Miller told CNN.
Miller echoed that remark while speaking to KTRK and added that he confirmed the comment with Vence's ex-fiancee and Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens.
"I talked to Brittany on the phone to see if that was correct or just a rumor, and she said, 'Yeah, that was correct,'" Miller said.
But the search has thus far proved futile without more details, Texas EquuSearch said Wednesday.
"It is frustrating. We've been here before with other cases," Miller told the Houston Chronicle. "We're hoping some new information comes in."
Vence initially reported Maleah missing after arriving at a hospital in Sugar Land May 4. Police said he claimed to have been in and out of consciousness for almost 24 hours, after being attacked while examining a possible flat tire on his way to pick up Maleah’s mother at the airport. He said Maleah had been abducted by three men who stole his car, according to police.
But his story changed multiple times during his interview with Sugar Land Police, one of the agencies investigating Maleah’s disappearance, officials said.
“The substantive details of what he described to us changed,” Sugar Land Police spokesman Doug Adolph told CNN. "I can say that fundamental parts of his story changed throughout the course of our initial interview.”
Surveillance footage obtained by KHOU-TV showed Maleah walking behind Vence toward their apartment complex April 30. She was never seen exiting the apartment, but Vence was allegedly seen leaving the home three days later carrying a blue laundry basket with a garbage bag and bottles of bleach, CBS News reported.
Police said they found drops of blood linked to Maleah inside the apartment and prosecutors said cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains inside the car Vence had claimed was stolen. Authorities said they also found a blue laundry basket and gas can inside the vehicle. They also said they found footage of Vence arriving at the hospital in the car he said was taken.
Vence is being held on a $45,000 bond, which was reduced from $1 million.
On Wednesday night, community members came together for a balloon release to pay tribute to Maleah, KTRK reported.
But with each passing day, the likelihood of finding the girl alive dims.
"This is a baby," said Miller. "This baby did not choose where it's at right now and doesn't want to be where it's at right now. It's heartbreaking."
Anyone with information regarding Maleah’s disappearance is asked to contact Houston Police at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers Houston at 713-222-TIPS.