Police charge stepfather of missing Texas girl with evidence tampering

Source: Houston Police Dept./CNN

HOUSTON (Gray News) - Darion Vence, the stepfather of 4-year-old Maleah Davis, has been charged with tampering with evidence, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitives Task Force took him into custody on Saturday. They had been helping the Houston Police Department search for him.

Vence is the last known person to have been with Maleah. But police say since the beginning, his story has been full of holes.

"I realize there are a lot blanks in this story, but we're hoping the public can fill in the blanks," Houston Police Sgt. Mark Holbrook said.

Vence told police he was on the way to the airport with Maleah and her 1-year-old brother last Friday to pick up their mom.

En route, he said, he heard a noise coming from the car. So he got out to check if he had a flat tire.

It's then, he told police, he was ambushed by three Hispanic men in a blue pick up truck.

"One of them makes a comment saying that Maleah looks nice, looks very sweet. The other male hits Darion in the head. Darion loses consciousness," Holbrook said.

Vence said he and the two children were carjacked and abducted.

He didn't fully regain consciousness, he said, until 6 p.m. the next day.

When he woke up on the side of a highway more than 40 miles from the airport. His 1-year-old was with him, but Maleah was nowhere to be found.

It took him 5 hours to go to a hospital for his injuries and report her missing.

Maleah's mother Brittany Bowens initially defended Vence against those who doubted his story.

In a long post on social media, she pushed back against his critics.

But in the days that followed and as the search for the missing girl intensified, there were more questions.

On Thursday, the car Vence was driving the night Maleah disappeared was spotted in a shopping center parking lot, just a few miles from where he said he regained consciousness.

Bowens said the discovery added to her suspicions about Vence.

His story, she said, just doesn't add up.

"No, I don't believe his story only because I’ve been out here every single day doing what I have to do as a mother. I've been trying and he hasn't been by my side, not one time,” Bowens told CNN. “He hasn't called me. I haven't heard from him since Monday, I don't know what's going on.

“And it's like, if you're innocent, why can't you save yourself? Why aren't you out here defending yourself? I defended you in good faith."