Community honors Maleah Davis as search groups continue scouting areas for clues

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Monday, May 13, 2019
Community honors Maleah Davis on Mother's Day
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"It just hits home," said a supporter. "I can't see how anybody can enjoy this day."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Dozens of supporters spent Mother's Day at a gas station across the street from the apartment complex in southwest Houston where 4-year-old Maleah Davis was was last seen alive.

The Parents Against Predators group helped organize a balloon release Sunday to raise awareness for the search.

RELATED: New photos show last time Maleah Davis seen alive outside family's apartment

A pastor said a prayer for Maleah, and several mothers in the crowd took turns expressing their grief and concerns over the fact that Maleah is still missing.

The group then marched across the street into the apartment complex and went up to the door of the unit where Derion Vence lived.

Authorities say Vence was the last person to see Maleah and had bond set late Saturday after his arrest on a tampering with evidence charge in the disappearance.

Vence is the ex-fiancé of Maleah's mother and was captured on security camera on April 30 going into that apartment with Maleah. Investigators said the girl was never again seen leaving with him.

ABC13 Eyewitness News spoke with Jannia Soto, a neighbor who lives in the same complex as Maleah's family, and claims she saw Vence in his back patio on Saturday, May 4, during the time he told police he was allegedly knocked unconscious and lying on the side of the road in Sugar Land.

"He was standing inside his porch smoking and he looked at us," said Soto. "He saw us, and he didn't have no bruise or nothing on his forehead."

Vence reported that on the night of May 3, he was on his way to Bush Intercontinental Airport with Maleah and his 1-year-old son to pick up the girl's mother, Brittany Bowens.

He said that he pulled over near Greens Road and Highway 59 to check his tires because he heard a popping noise.

As Vence was checking his vehicle, he claims three Hispanic men in a 2010 blue Chevrolet crew cab pickup truck pulled up.

During a press conference, police said Vence told them he was ambushed by the men, with one of them hitting him on the head, and he lost consciousness.

The next thing he knew, Vence said he woke up on the side of Highway 6 near First Colony Mall around 6 p.m. May 4. His son was with him, but Maleah was not.

In Fort Bend County, deputies assisted Texas Equusearch in the search for Maleah and spent Sunday afternoon scouting an area not far from Ridge Point High School, located near Waters Lake Blvd. in Sienna Plantation.

The group Houston Unsolved Homicides organized their own search in the Alief area. Volunteers used horses and ATVs to comb through a wooded area.

RELATED: Blood found in apartment of suspect in 4-year-old's disappearance, police say