Texas EquuSearch has temporarily halted its search for missing 4-year-old girl Maleah Davis pending new tips, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Tim Miller, founder of the missing persons organization, said search crews have followed up on a multitude of leads, however, none have been helpful in solving what happened to the missing girl.
“It’s frustrating,” Miller told the newspaper. “We’ve been here before with other cases. We’re hoping some new information comes in.”
He said search and rescue crews would “continue to work closely with investigators and follow up on credible tips & leads” in search of Davis, who’s been missing for almost two weeks.
Derion Vence, the ex-fiancé of the young girl’s mother, faces charges of tampering with a corpse in Davis’ disappearance. Vence reported the girl missing May 4 after he claimed she was abducted during a carjacking.
His story, which authorities said changed “several times,” slowly crumbled as police continued their investigation into the alleged incident. Then, blood linked to Davis‘ DNA was discovered inside the apartment Vence, 26, shared with the young girl and her mother, Brittany Bowens.
On Wednesday, search crews scoured the small Brazoria County community of Rosharon, Texas, where organizers said Vence once worked a route as a mail carrier. The postmaster confirmed to ABC13 Eyewitness News that the Houston man was employed at the Rosharon post office between June 2017 and August 2018.
Miller said EquuSearch crews focused on the swampy, rural area because Vence once indicated to a relative that he would hide a body there.
“He actually said to his mother-in-law a year ago that, ‘Man, if I ever killed anybody, I’ve got some places down in Rosharon they’d never find the body,’” Miller said. “I talked to Brittany [Bowens] on the phone to see if that was correct or just a rumor, and she said, ‘Yea, that was correct.’”
Since then, Miller said they’ve received several tips suggesting that Maleah’s remains could be in the area. ABC13 reported that volunteer search teams spent two days combing over pasture and fields, checking roadside ditches and even performed a helicopter search from above in an effort to find the missing child.
Crews are specifically looking for clues that are part prosecutorial evidence, including the black trash bag and laundry basket Vence was seen carrying from the family’s apartment. The laundry basket and a can of gasoline were found in the trunk of the silver Nissan Altima Vence claimed was stolen.
Authorities recovered the car in a parking lot in the Houston-area suburb of Missouri City.
“We feel as though there is a strong possibility that she was burned,” Miller said. “Many of these areas are under water. We’ve tried to find burn spots. We’ve tried to find whatever we can by the air.”
Authorities haven’t confirmed Davis is deceased, but they don’t believe she’s still alive. Police said two K-9s also sniffed out “the scent of decomposition” coming from the vehicle, adding to the grim prospect that Davis may have been murdered.
This week, the girl’s biological father, Craig Davis, took to social media to share heartbreaking photos of his daughter. Davis posted a number of pictures of him and his little girl, including one that showed a visibly-swollen Maleah with her head on his chest following her surgery for a head injury.
“He loved his daughter,” Davis’ cousin, Tamisha Mendoza, told FOX 26. “His daughter has been ripped away from him. He’s devastated.”
On Wednesday, Miller vowed to never stop searching for the missing girl.
“This is a baby,” he said. “This baby did not choose where [she’s] at right now and doesn’t want to be where she’s at right now. It’s heartbreaking … I don’t want our emotions to get in the way. At times, that happens. God bless her. We’re not going to quit. We may suspend, but we’ll never quit.”
Watch more in the video below.