Remains found in Arkansas identified as missing 4-year-old Texas girl

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HOUSTON (AP/KAKE) -

Authorities say the remains found in Arkansas last week have been identified as those of a missing 4-year-old Texas girl.

   The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said Monday the remains are those of Maleah Davis.

   Authorities found her remains near a freeway outside of Hope, Arkansas, after Derion Vence, the man who had been arrested in connection with Maleah's disappearance, told a community activist he had disposed of her body there.

   The institute of forensic sciences says the cause and manner of her death are not yet determined.

   The remains were flown back to Houston after they were discovered in Arkansas on Friday.

   Vence, the ex-fiance of Maleah's mother, had claimed Maleah was abducted last month. Vence remains jailed on a charge of tampering with evidence.
 

Previous story:  

A sheriff says authorities in Arkansas looking for the body of a missing 4-year-old Houston girl are trying to determine if her remains were inside a plastic bag found during the search.

Sheriff James Singleton in Arkansas' Hempstead County says workers first found the bag a couple of days ago. The bag had a foul odor coming from it.

Singleton says another work crew mowing grass near the city of Hope, Arkansas, came across the bag Friday and might have accidentally run over it.

The search for Maleah Davis shifted to Arkansas after a community activist said the man arrested in connection with her disappearance confessed he disposed of her body there.

Singleton says the bag's contents will likely have to be identified at the medical examiner's office in Little Rock.


Previous story:

A month after a 4-year-old Texas girl was last seen alive, a Houston community activist says the girl's stepfather told him the child's body was dumped in Arkansas.

KTRK reports that Quanell X, who advocated for Maleah Davis' mother, told reporters Friday about the new information he claimed to have received from Derion Vence, the suspect in Maleah's disappearance.

Quanell said he met earlier in the day with Vence, who has been behind bars since May 11. He said Maleah is dead as a result of an accident, but he didn't say how she died.

"All I can say is he told me it was an accident, and that she is dead and where he dumped her body," Quanell said.

Maleah was last seen on April 30 when surveillance footage captured her going into her Houston home with Vence, her mother's ex-fiancé. Other surveillance footage from a neighbor showed Vence leaving the couple's apartment on May 3 with his son and a laundry basket.

Vence, who was caring for the Maleah while her mother was away, told police the 4-year-old was abducted by three men, including one who knocked him out during a carjacking, but Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he doesn't believe the story.

Police found the family's car in Missouri City, Texas, and investigators said cadaver-sniffing dogs detected the scent of human remains inside.

Quanell withheld where he was told the body was dumped, only to say it was somewhere in Arkansas. He added that Vence was specific about the "distance and time" of the body's location.

"He said 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," Quanell said.

Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch added that he thinks the details are true enough to move the search to Arkansas. He added he didn't believe a many searchers would be needed based on their information.