HOUSTON – The Amber Alert that was issued for Maleah Davis a month ago was canceled Monday after investigators said human remains that were found in Arkansas last week were positively identified as belonging to her.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said the 4-year-old girl’s cause and manner of death are pending further tests and investigation.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a written statement that his office will continue to work with prosecutors to ensure those responsible for Maleah's death are brought to justice.
"The Houston Police Department will continue to work diligently with the Harris County District Attorney's Office and other partners to ensure the person(s) responsible for her death, and the attempted cover-up of her death, are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Acevedo said in the statement. "HPD will not rest until justice is served in this case."
Maleah was reported missing May 4 by her stepfather, Derion Vence. He was arrested seven days later on a charge of tampering with evidence.
According to community activist Quanell X, Vence confessed to him that he had dumped Maleah’s body in Arkansas and that her death was the result of an accident.
Vence has been held in jail since his arrest.
A memorial outside the apartment where Maleah was last seen alive has grown since the little girl’s remains were found.
Some of her family members visited the memorial on Monday and were overwhelmed by the sight.
“She was a beautiful spirit and she's with God. She's watching down on all of us,” Amina Valley said.
Hand-drawn messages and pictures look down on the stuffed animals and candles piled in front of the Southwest Houston apartment where Maleah had been staying with Vence.
“I feel so bad and we kept on praying every day,” Remy Ajiboya said.
Even those who didn't know Maleah or her family were drawn to the spot. All sought the comfort of a supporting hand and bonded over collective grief for a child taken too soon.
“I want justice for that girl,” Ajiboya said.
“We just thank the public. We thank everybody for the love and the support you all have given our family,” Valley said.