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New court documents reveal Maleah Davis' airway was 'restricted' before death

Derion Vence, who initially reported 4-year-old Maleah Davis missing, was arrested and booked into the Harris County jail in May on suspicion of tampering with a human corpse, according to police. (Houston Police Department)

HOUSTON – A new grand jury indictment reveals new details on how 4-year-old Maleah Davis died before her remains were found in Arkansas. 

Derion Vence, 27, has been held in jail since May 11, when he was arrested on a tampering with evidence charge related to the 4-year-old girl’s corpse. 

New details on how Maleah died

Court documents reveal Vence is accused of striking Maleah with a blunt object, causing her to hit another blunt object and fall to the floor. On Monday, court documents also stated that Vence restricted the 4-year-old's airway with an unknown object. He is also accused of failing to provide proper medical care.  

Investigators said that Maleah died by homicidal violence. 

Vence, who has been described by family members as Maleah’s stepfather, has been additionally charged with injury to a child, "intentionally and knowingly causing serious bodily injury" to Maleah.

The charge is a first-degree felony, which carries the same penalty as murder, five to 99 years in prison.  A Harris County District Court judge set his bail at $45,000 for each of the charges, bringing his new total to $90,000.

The disappearance of Maleah

Vence reported Maleah missing May 4. According to investigators, Vence said he, Maleah and her younger brother were attacked the day before when he stopped to check a damaged tire. He said he was knocked out during the attack and when he regained consciousness, Maleah and the family’s car were gone.

Maleah’s body was found on May 31 in Arkansas. Community activist Quanell X said Vence confessed to him that Maleah’s death was the result of an accident and that he dumped her body in Arkansas.  

What's next? 

Vence is due back in court on Nov. 12. 


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