'Justice for Maleah': Missing girl's mother stoic as crowds chant inside courthouse

HOUSTON – Family members and supporters crowded the courthouse in downtown Houston in anticipation of the appearance of Derion Vence, the man at the center of the disappearance of 4-year-old Maleah Davis.

Vence was scheduled to go before a judge Monday after he was charged with tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse, but his court date was reset and he did not appear.

Maleah’s mother did not utter a single word as she walked out of the courtroom alongside community activist Quanell X. 

She was greeted with cameras, cellphones and a crowd of community members shouting “justice for Maleah” as she made her way to the elevator, but she never broke stride.

Instead, Quanell X addressed the people saying their main concern is answering the question, “Where is Maleah?”

“The main thing right now - that all of us want to know is, ‘What did he do with Maleah?’” Quanell X said. “(That’s) the bottom line.”

Among those in the courthouse was Tamisha Mendoza, the cousin of Craig Davis Jr., Maleah’s biological father. Mendoza said Davis is devastated and is in no state to be in court.

"He's a father. He loved his daughter. His daughter has been ripped away from him, he’s devastated,” Mendoza said.

Davis was not visiting with his children for unknown reasons, court documents said.

“He’s not here because right now it’s too much,” Mendoza said. “Honestly, I would prefer that he got himself together before he came and listened to the details of this case.”

Mendoza said Maleah was a happy girl and didn’t deserve whatever happened to her.

Others out searching for Maleah said they won't rest until they find her.

"This is very emotional for the city of Houston. We lost a 4-year-old princess who had done nothing,” volunteer John Marisden said.

WATCH: KPRC2 legal analyst Brian Wice talks about details surrounding Maleah Davis case

Vence reported the 4-year-old missing May 4, after he claimed he, his son and Maleah were kidnapped by three men in a blue Chevy truck.

Court documents said police found blood in the apartment where Maleah lived with Vence and her mother. They said it matched the child’s DNA.

Surveillance cameras caught Vence leaving the apartment with a laundry basket and a black trash bag inside.

More surveillance video from a neighbor who lives across from where Maleah lived caught Vence walking to his vehicle alone the same day as the child's disappearance.

Community members placed teddy bears, balloons and candles outside the family's apartment door Sunday and, with tears in their eyes, desperately asked: “Where is Maleah?”

Texas EquuSearch resumed its search for Maleah on Monday morning.

Vence's bond was originally set at $1 million over the weekend, but was reducted Monday to $45,000.

Timeline of the Maleah Davis case

About the Authors:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.

Emmy-winning journalist. Inquisitive. Sparkle enthusiast. Coffee-fueled, with a dash of sass.