The 4-year-old Texas girl who went missing about three weeks ago was likely murdered, according to police, who said her stepfather’s story about what happened has a hole “large enough to drive a big rig through.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made the comments during a Thursday press conference about Maleah Davis — after her stepfather, Derion Vence, claimed the little girl was kidnapped, according to local station KPRC-TV.
At this point, the investigation is a recovery operation, Acevedo told reporters.
“Our focus right now is to find this little baby,” he said. “Our focus is getting her, recovering her body. I could sit here and say we’re going to find her alive, but I’d be lying.”
Vence had initially claimed that he, Maleah and his 1-year-old son were all abducted by three Hispanic men during a violent carjacking in Houston on May 3.
Vence told cops he kept drifting in and out of consciousness during the dramatic ordeal — and when he finally came to his senses around 6 p.m. the next day, he found himself on the side of a highway with his toddler son. But Maleah — who had brain surgery just last month — was nowhere to be found.
He was arrested about a week later and charged with tampering with a human corpse — after police said that they found Maleah’s blood in his apartment. But they could not say whether they believed he had murdered his stepdaughter.
Now it appears that Vence had told cops a “tall tale” and is not cooperating with investigators, Acevedo said.
“We strongly believe he knows where she’s at and if he wanted to tell us, he would,” the city’s top cop said.
Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens, is communicating with authorities, but she’s not the focus of the case, Acevedo added.
The reward for anyone who provides information on the tot’s disappearance was raised this week to $20,000, the station reported Friday.
Crime Stoppers of Houston initially offered a $5,000 reward, and Acevedo said Thursday that his department would provide an additional $5,000.
Then two donors from Lake Charles, Louisiana — Ronnie and Karen Bias, also known as Dude and Nene — came forward with an additional $10,000, the outlet reported.
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