The human remains found in a black garbage back on the side of an interstate in Arkansas could "possibly" be those of missing Texas 4-year-old Maleah Davis, police said.
The search for the little girl came to a head after investigators were pointed away from Texas and into Arkansas, where the ex-fiance of Maleah's mother allegedly said he dumped the child's body after an "accident."
As officers scoured a wooded area in southwest Arkansas Friday, they were alerted that a road cleanup crew had found a trash bag with "a foul odor," Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton said. Human remains were found inside, and they were sent to be tested.
"If this is the little girl, we want to make sure that we treat it with respect and dignity," Singleton told reporters.
Though the remains won't be identified until an autopsy is completed, police believe this could be the break in the case they've been waiting for.
"Do we believe that it's possibly her? Yes. But can we confirm it right now? No," said Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner.
A community activist who used to represent Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens, had told investigators of a conversation he had with Bowens' ex-fiance. He said 26-year-old Derion Vence told him Maleah's death was an "accident" and he disposed of her body in Arkansas.
"He said that he pulled over in Arkansas, got out of the car, walked off the side of the road and dumped her body off the side of the road," Quanell X told reporters.
This led officers to their search in Arkansas Friday afternoon.
It's been a month since Maleah was last spotted on surveillance footage with Vence on April 30. She’d been left in his care while her mother 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.
Activist Quanell X announced this week that he is no longer representing Brittany Bowens because he believes “she knows what happened” to her missing daughter. He said that Bowens' behavior almost immediately raised red flags, but said he remained by her side for as long as he did to get information he feared police searching for the girl could not.
Bowens has not been charged with any crime and has not been named a suspect in connection to her daughter’s vanishing. She has spoken out against Quanell X and said he is misrepresenting the family’s past, KRIV reported.
When she was previously lambasted by protesters who believe she is as responsible as Vence allegedly is for Maleah's disappearance, Bowens maintained her innocence.
Vence is charged with tampering with evidence. He has not entered a plea.
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.