Medical Examiner Confirms Remains Found in Arkansas Are Those of 4-Year-Old Maleah Davis

Derion Vence in photo provided by Houston police
Photo: Associated Press

Decomposed remains found in Arkansas late last week have been confirmed to be those of 4-year-old Maleah Davis, the Houston child reported missing from Texas in early May by her mother’s then-fiance, who was subsequently arrested in connection to the case.

As KTRK ABC 13 reports, police in Fulton, Ark., Friday said a road crew found a bag from which a foul odor emanated. Inside, were bones and blood.


“We are all saddened by the confirmation of the identification of the remains brought home to Houston by members of the Houston Police Department as Maleah Davis,” the Houston Police Department said Monday in a statement. “However, we are heartened by the fact this sweet child can now receive the proper burial she deserved and that those who knew and loved her most desired.”

Derion Vence, the fiance of Maleah’s mother at the time of the child’s disappearance, has been in jail since May 11 on charges of suspicion of tampering with a human corpse.

Vence initially told police May 4 that he had been attacked by “three Hispanic men” who had abducted him, his own 1-year-old son and Maleah, before finally taking off with just Maleah.


Vence also claimed amnesia due to having been hit in the head. But about 10 days after the child disappeared, police found his story to have too many holes, and he was arrested and jailed on the tampering charge.

This past weekend while still in jail on $45,000 bail, Vence allegedly confessed to Houston community activist Quanell X that he had killed Maleah “by accident” and revealed where to find her body.


The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, which identified Maleah’s remains, says it hasn’t yet determined “the cause and manner of the girl’s death,” the Washington Post reports.


Harris County prosecutors say Vence will likely face charges in addition to those of tampering with a corpse, which on its own carries a sentence of up to 20 years, according to KTRK.

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