HOUSTON — Maleah Davis’ father said in court Wednesday, May 29 that he tried to see her hours before she was reported missing, but that the suspect in her disappearance would not allow it, according to CNN affiliate KTRK.
Derion Vence lived in Houston with the missing 4-year-old’s mother and was caring for the girl while her mother was out of town. He is now a suspect in her May 3 disappearance after telling authorities that Maleah disappeared after he, the young girl and his son were abducted by three men who knocked him unconscious.
Earlier that evening, Maleah’s father, Craig Davis, and his sister went to the apartment where Maleah lived with Vence and her mother to check on the child, the station reported Davis saying at a Wednesday court hearing. The hearing was related to the custody of Maleah’s brother, according to local media reports.
Vence would not let them in, saying that Maleah had the flu, Davis testified. Davis said Vence denied their request to look in on the girl as she slept in her bed, according to KTRK.
Vence told police he left about an hour later with his son and Maleah to pick up Maleah’s mom from the airport, KTRK reported.
He initially told authorities that on their way, three Hispanic men knocked him unconscious and abducted the girl.
But surveillance footage showed Maleah never left the apartment, court documents said, and blood found in the apartment was “consistent” with DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.
Vence also was seen on surveillance being dropped off by car at a hospital, the court documents said, contradicting his story that he walked there after the attack.
Vence was arrested and booked into Harris County jail on suspicion of tampering with a human corpse, according to police. Court documents indicated a “substantial likelihood” Vence would be charged with murder. He was scheduled to appear in court May 13, but the hearing was moved to July 10, online records said.
Efforts to reach Vence’s attorney were unsuccessful.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters last week that he is not hopeful Maleah will be found alive.
“We really believe we have a little girl that has been murdered,” Acevedo said. “We believe she’s out there somewhere and we want to bring her home.”