Houston police believe Maleah Davis, the 4-year-old girl last seen near a highway in Houston, has been killed, according to CBS News.
Now, they need help finding and identifying her body.
“She deserves to be found, she deserves to be recovered and she deserves to have a proper burial,” Chief Art Acevedo said at a Thursday news conference.
Davis has been missing since May 3, when her mother’s ex-fiance Derion Vence reported her missing after he initially claimed she was taken when three men approached him while pulled over on a Houston-area highway. Vence told police the assailants freed him and his son but kept Davis and his truck.
Later, police said Vence’s story, which had changed considerably, didn’t add up. Brittany Bowens, Davis’s mother, now believes her ex-fiance bears at least partial responsibility for the disappearance of her daughter.
Acevedo believes Vence knows where the child is but has decided not to tell police. Vence is currently being held on a charge of tampering with human evidence, specifically a human corpse. Investigators searched Vence’s apartment and found blood, while search dogs detected the scent of human decomposition in his car when it was located.
“We strongly believe he knows where she’s at and if he wanted to tell us, he would,” Acevedo said, warning travelers to be alert in places less traveled or off the beaten path, like hiking trails. Travelers should be aware of things like out-of-place soil, Acevedo said.
Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard took it a step further, telling the media that authorities were “not receiving the level of cooperation we need from anybody involved at this point.”
Crime Stoppers of Houston offered an initial reward of $5,000 shortly after Davis’ disappearance. Acevedo said his department will be providing an additional $5,000 of reward money, and local figures Ronnie and Karen Bias, also known as Dude and Nene, from Lake Charles, La., offered an additional $10,000, bringing the total reward to $20,000, according to Click2Houston.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.