A car that was reportedly stolen when a 4-year-old Texas girl on Amber alert—Maleah Davis—disappeared late last week was found Thursday, May 9, in a suburban Houston parking lot, authorities said.
A woman notified police when she spotted the gray Nissan Altima in a Missouri City parking lot off Highway 6.
According to the Associated Press, Houston police Detective Kenneth Fregia said that the car was found unlocked and didn’t appear to be damaged, and that detectives would go over it “with a fine-toothed comb.”
According to KHOU11, police said they have found no evidence inside the car.
Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens, was at the scene as police conducted an initial search of the car. She could be seen crying and hitting her hands against the ground.
“Where is Maleah? Where is my baby?” she tearfully yelled, according to KRTK.
BREAKING: the silver Nissan Altima, reported stolen by Maleah’s stepfather is found in Missouri City. Mother of the missing 4YO is on scene tearfully yelling “Where is my baby?” @abc13houston #FINDMALEAH #MaleahDavis pic.twitter.com/XnQOebw5D9
— Shelley Childers (@shelleyabc13) May 9, 2019
Police said that Maleah’s stepfather, Derion Vence, had told investigators that he was driving the car to the airport to pick up Bowens on the night of May 3, when he pulled over to check if it had a flat tire. Then, Vence said, men in a pickup truck pulled up, knocked him out and abducted him, Maleah and his 2-year-old son before eventually allowing him and the boy to go free, Houston police said according to AP.
Vence initially reported Maleah missing after he showed up May 5 at a hospital in Sugar Land, which is next to Missouri City. He told police he had been in and out of consciousness over the previous 24 hours and had walked there after coming to a highway that runs through the region.
But a Sugar Land police spokesman said Vence’s “story changed several times,” AP reported.
Fregia said the car’s tires appeared to be fine and that investigators have been searching for security footage that might show when and how the car arrived in the lot.
Fregia added that Vence hasn’t spoken with investigators since May 5, and that he’d “like to talk” with Vence again. Police said they weren’t concerned with his whereabouts.
Child Protective Services (CPS) has been monitoring the home where Maleah was living with Vence, Bowens, her grandmother, and her siblings for months, CPS spokeswoman Tiffani Butler said according to AP.
In August 2018, Maleah and her 5- and 1-year-old brothers were removed from the home and placed in the care of relatives. Maleah was found with a head injury that eventually led to her having multiple brain surgeries, Butler said.
Maleah was only taken to the hospital at the urging of her grandmother, who was at work at the time of Maleah’s injury, court records uncovered by KHOU11 showed.
The records also showed that doctors said the explanation that she “fell off a chair” didn’t add up to what they saw, and they suspected abuse.
The children were returned to the home in February but officially remained in state custody and were checked on by a caseworker each month, Butler said, according to AP.
Mom, Stepdad Banned From Contact With All Their Children
A court order has banned Vence and Bowens from having any contact with their children.
Police announced a missing Amber alert for Maleah Davis of Houston, Texas, on May 5. The 4-year-old was last seen wearing a blue zip-up jacket, blue jeans, sneakers, and had a pink bow in her hair, police said.
KHOU11 reported that an emergency hearing was held on early May 8.
“Mother & Father Vence to have no contact with the children,” the court minutes read.
It ordered Maleah’s younger half-brother to stay with his paternal grandmother. Maleah’s younger brother is now in the custody of his paternal aunt; if Maleah is found alive, she will also be under the same custody.
The court order is the result of separate motions filed by Maleah’s grandmother, Brenda Bowens, and the Department of Family and Protective Services, KHOU11 reported.
The court did not place the kids with Brenda, but are allowing her to attend sibling visits.
If you’ve seen Maleah, the silver Nissan or the blue pickup truck (photos as provided by police) please call HPD Homicide at 713-308-3600 or @crimestophou at 713-222-TIPS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report