Police still are searching for Maleah Davis, whose stepdad alleges she was taken after he was knocked unconscious in a carjacking

By Jeff Truesdell
May 09, 2019 01:45 PM
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A stepdad’s allegedly “contradictory” statements are being investigated as police continue to look for a missing 4-year-old Texas girl who the man claimed was abducted by three men in the Houston area Friday night.

A Houston police spokesperson declined to formally name the stepdad, Derion Vence, as a person of interest to PEOPLE and said the search for the missing girl is “still ongoing.”

But in Sugar Land, a suburb outside of Houston where Vence showed up Saturday night at a hospital claiming he’d been carjacked and knocked unconscious for 24 hours during which time he alleged Maleah Davis was kidnapped, police allege there were inconsistencies in his account.

“During the course of that initial interview that he provided our officer, his story changed several times, and much of what he told us simply didn’t add up,” Sugar Land police spokesman Doug Adolph tells PEOPLE, describing those statements as “contradictory.”

Adolph declined to detail the inconsistencies, but added, “there were substantive parts of what he told us that changed during the course of the interview.”

Because Sugar Land police determined the alleged carjacking occurred within the Houston city limits, they turned the case over to the second agency.

Maleah and her two brothers earlier were removed from the girl’s home after allegations of abuse, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services told CNN.

In February of this year, they were returned, but a judge called for child protective services to check on the family at least once a month.

In an interview with CNN, Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens, denied abusing Maleah, saying, “We’re not those kinds of people.”

Darion Vence missing 5yr old Maleah Davis
Credit: Houston Police Department

Houston police Sgt. Mark Holbrook said “there’s a lot of blanks in [Vence’s] story,” when he spoke with reporters at a news conference on Sunday after an AMBER Alert had been issued for the missing girl.

Bowens told CNN that Vence’s story doesn’t “make sense.”

Vence told police that Maleah, who authorities said was recovering from a recent brain surgery, was riding in a silver 2011 Nissan Altima with him and his 2-year-old son about 6 p.m. on the way to the Houston airport to meet Maleah’s mother.

While traveling on the Southeast Freeway, Vence claimed he heard “a popping noise, like he has a flat tire,” Holbrook said. When he pulled over to the side of the road to check, Vence told police a blue pickup pulled off behind him and two Hispanic men got out.

As they approached, “one of them makes a comment saying that Maleah looks very nice, looks very sweet,” Holbrook said, quoting Vence’s claims to police.

That’s when Vence claimed to police he was hit on the head and lost consciousness.

When Vence initially woke up, he claimed he and the two children were in the back of the pickup, which now carried three Hispanic men.

After slipping in and out of consciousness, Vence claimed he regained full awareness around 6 p.m on Saturday and discovered that he and the 2-year-old boy had been dropped off on the Highway 6 roadside in the Sugar Land area — with Maleah gone. His car allegedly was stolen as well.

He claimed he walked with the boy to the nearby Sugar Land Methodist Hospital for help around 11 p.m., where he reported Maleah missing.

The Houston Chronicle reports that on Thursday, the car Vence was driving was found in Missouri City, more than 10 miles from Sugar Land.

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Maleah, who stands 3 feet tall and weighs 30 to 40 pounds with brown eyes, was last seen wearing a pink bow in her black hair, a light blue zip-up jacket, blue jeans and gray, white and pink sneakers, say police.

Authorities still are searching for the pickup truck Vence described, which they identified as a “blue, crew-cab, Chevy pickup truck, possibly a 2010 year model.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.