HOUSTON (AP) – Authorities say the remains found in Arkansas last week have been identified as those of a missing 4-year-old Texas girl.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said Monday the remains are those of Maleah Davis.
Authorities found her remains near a freeway outside of Hope, Arkansas, after Derion Vence, the man who had been arrested in connection with Maleah’s disappearance, told a community activist he had disposed of her body there.
The institute of forensic sciences says the cause and manner of her death are not yet determined.
The remains were flown back to Houston after they were discovered in Arkansas on Friday.
Vence, the ex-fiance of Maleah’s mother, had claimed Maleah was abducted last month. Vence remains jailed on a charge of tampering with evidence.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Police in Houston have confirmed remains found in southwest Arkansas in the search for a missing Houston girl appear to be those of a child.
The remains have not been identified, but they were found as the search for 4-year-old Maleah Davis intensified Friday after new information was brought to the attention of investigators.
That information appears to be related to the revelation Friday morning by civil rights activist Quanell X that the suspect Derion Vence told him that the child’s death was an accident and that he had confessed to dumping her body at the first Hope exit coming from Texarkana.
Vence had said his fiancee’s child was abducted. But police found blood in his home and signs of decay in his car.
“One thing he wanted to make clear to me was (that) what happened to Maleah was an accident, he says it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped the body,” Quanell X told CNN affiliate KTRK.
There has been no identification made on the remains, but Houston police said in a news conference Friday they believe they could be the remains of Maleah.
“It might be Maleah but we can’t be certain,” said Houston Police Cmdr. Michael Skillern.
The remains will be processed by Arkansas State Police before they are sent to the medical examiner in Harris County, Texas, Skillern said.
In the meantime, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner renewed the plea for tips in the case.
“Now that we have another piece of this puzzle, somebody may have seen either the person that’s in jail now traveling to, for example, to Arkansas or somebody in Arkansas may have seen that person between here and there, so that information is vitally important. So if anybody knows any information, has any information, whether it’s a family member or someone that’s connected to this family in any shape, form or fashion, whether it’s a friend, a neighbor, a stranger may have seen something, all of that information is still very much-needed and a part of this ongoing investigation.”
Hempstead Sheriff James Singleton says the discovery was made along I-30 near Fulton after a mowing crew found a black garbage bag emitting a foul odor.
Local, state and federal authorities converged on the area off of I-30 and cordoned off the Exit 18 eastbound on-ramp with police tape, where the focus of the search appeared to intensify shortly after 2 p.m. Friday before it was confirmed that the suspected remains had been found.
Vence has been in jail since May 11 when he was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Maleah’s disappearance after investigators said blood found in the family’s southwest Houston apartment matched DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.
According to investigators, Vence said he, Maleah and Maleah’s younger brother were attacked April 30 when he stopped to inspect a damaged tire. He said he was knocked out during the attack and when he regained consciousness, Maleah and the family’s car were missing.
Vence reported Maleah missing May 3 when he went to a Sugar Land hospital for treatment of his injuries he said he suffered during the April 30 attack.
Investigators said there have been inconsistencies in Vence’s story.