The death of missing Texas girl Maleah Davis, 4, has been ruled a homicide.
Davis, who disappeared in early May, died as a result of homicidal violence, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences announced Friday. The little girl’s remains were found in a trash bag along an Arkansas highway on May 31.
Suspect Derion Vence, 27, remains jailed on a charge of tampering with evidence, namely a corpse, in Davis’ disappearance. It’s unclear whether the new findings will lead to additional charges against the defendant.
“Our investigation continues,” a Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokesman confirmed in a statement. “All the evidence will ultimately be presented to a grand jury to determine what charges are appropriate.”
“We remain dedicated to finding the truth and delivering justice for Maleah and the entire community,” the office added.
Vence, the ex-fiancé of Maleah’s mother, reported the young girl missing on May 4, telling police she was kidnapped during an alleged carjacking in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land. As he, Maleah, and his then-1-year-old son that he shares with Maleah’s mother headed to the airport, Vence claimed they were ambushed by three Latino men.
He told police he was knocked unconscious during the assault and awoke to find his car and the little girl gone.
Vence’s tall tale soon unraveled, however, after authorities said he changed his story several times, and after investigators said a search of the family’s apartment turned up traces of Davis’ blood.
It was Houston activist Quanell X who gleaned the confession from Vence about where he’d dumped the girl’s remains, bringing the desperate, month-long search for Davis to a grim close. According to Quanell, Vence insisted Maleah’s death was an “accident,” and revealed that “he pulled over in Arkansas, got out of the car, walked off the side of the road, and dumped her body off the side of the road.”
David Chalfant, an inmate who was housed at the same facility as Vence, claimed the suspect had confessed to him first, revealing Maleah’s manner of death.
“He said she was sitting on his lap and he tossed her off and she hit her head,” Chalfant told ABC 13 Eyewitness news.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said authorities are still working with witnesses, doctors and other experts to determine exactly what happened to the little girl.
“Everyone is working full speed ahead with no stone unturned to bring justice to Maleah,” Acevedo told reporters.
Davis was laid to rest during a private funeral service on June 22.
In light of the new findings, activist Quanell X told KHOU 11 he believes the young girl’s mother, Brittany Bowens, should also be held accountable for her daughter’s death.
“She has to be because she could’ve did a much better job in protecting that beautiful young baby,” he said.