The remains of a child discovered in Arkansas may be those of 4-year-old Maleah Davis, missing from her Houston home since April 30, Houston police said Friday.
Authorities said a child’s body had been recovered from a garbage bag at a location that police had been directed to by the girl’s stepfather.
“HPD homicide detectives are there right now trying to determine if a garage bag found at the scene contains Maleah’s remains,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at press briefing. “But forensic examinations will have to make that final determination.”
Maleah was last seen on April 30 when surveillance footage captured her going into her Houston home with her mother’s ex-fiancé, 26-year-old Derion Vence. 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.
Officers arrested Vence earlier this month on suspicion of tampering with a human corpse, according to police. Acevedo said Vence had not been cooperating with the investigation.
As pressure was building to find the missing toddler, Crime Stoppers of Houston on Thursday increased its reward to $12,500 for information leading to the person responsible for the little girl’s disappearance.
Combined with the $15,000 offered by the Houston Police, the total reward had reached $27,500, Crime Stoppers said.
Police believe the 4-year-old was murdered and were looking to find her body to give her family closure, Houston authorities said last week.
“The sadness surrounding Maleah Davis’ disappearance has captured the hearts of our city and the nation,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is among those who has partnered with Crime Stoppers, said in a statement Thursday.
“The sadness surrounding Maleah Davis’ disappearance has captured the hearts of our city and the nation. I appreciate those who continue to search for the missing 4-year-old, but it is time to find Maleah and bring her home,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. pic.twitter.com/0vPsE3fFGF
— City of Houston (@HoustonTX) May 31, 2019
“I appreciate those who continue to search for the missing 4-year-old, but it is time to find Maleah and bring her home,” Turner said.
ABC News’ Karma Allen contributed to this report.