Stepfather who reported 4-year-old stepdaughter missing arrested

Derion Vence was charged with evidence tampering in connection with the disappearance of Maleah Davis, police said.

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By Dennis Romero

The stepfather of a 4-year-old Texas girl he reported missing was arrested Saturday in connection with her disappearance, Houston police said.

Derion Vence, 26, was charged with tampering with evidence after investigators said they found a laundry basket, a gas can and a vehicle they believe are connected to the disappearance of Maleah Davis one week ago. Police did not say how the items are tied to the case.

Maleah DavisHouston Police Department

After Maleah went missing May 4, Vence told authorities he was driving to George Bush Intercontinental Airport with the girl to pick up her mother when he heard what he thought was a flat tire. He pulled over and was attacked by three men who took the girl, he told police.

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The assault made him lose consciousness, and when he awoke the next day, the car was gone, he said. He walked to a hospital, police said he told them.

But the changing story is unraveling, the Houston Police Department said in a statement Saturday.

"Although Vence reported his silver Nissan Altima was taken in the abduction, surveillance video showed someone in that Nissan Altima dropped Vence off at the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital on May 5," police said.

Derion Vence was arrested Saturday by Houston police in the disappearance of his stepdaughter Maleah Davis, 4.

They said "blood evidence" taken from Vence's apartment is linked to the girl.

"Vence was also observed carrying a full laundry basket from the apartment," they said.

The Nissan was found in Missouri City, Texas, on Thursday, police said. In the trunk was that basket as well as a gas can, they said.

Vence was arrested Saturday at a relative's home in Sugar Land, Texas, by members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.

The girl's mother, Brittany Bowens, pleaded Monday for the girl's return.

"I just want to find Maleah and I love her so much," she said. "If there's anybody that can help me, please, please, I just want to find my baby. I just want to find her."

Michelle Acevedo contributed.