Foul play 'highly suspected' after body believed to be missing 2-year-old found in bayou

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said he is "highly confident" foul play is involved after the body of a young girl was found in a southeast Houston bayou Sunday morning as crews searched for a missing 2-year-old approximately 15 miles away.

Crews located the body of a young African American girl around 11:15 a.m. in Brays Bayou in the 5200 block of Carrolton Street, according to Houston Fire Department officials. Acevedo said a jogger spotted the body floating in the water. She and her husband both contacted 911 shortly after the discovery.

Maliyah "Tootie" Bass was reported missing Saturday from southwest Houston.

Tim Miller with Texas EquuSearch said Sunday the body is believed to be Maliyah, though formal identification is pending.

In a briefing held on Sunday afternoon, Acevedo reiterated that sentiment saying based on what investigators discovered, there is a "high probability it will be her."

"We don't want to give people false hope," explained Acevedo. "We want to hold on to a little hope, but we want to prepare for the worst. Based on the proximity to where [Maliyah] was reported missing, there's a high probability that it is her."

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"Our job is to try our very best to find out what happened," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.



Maliyah was last seen at a park in the 10600 block of Beechnut St., wearing a black tank top with multi-colored polka dots paired with the matching pants and a pair of blue shoes. She was carrying a pink and white pillowcase with letter blocks inside when she went missing.

Authorities issued an Amber Alert early Sunday for Maliyah. Amber Alerts are issued when authorities have reason to believe a child is in grave or immediate danger.
With no leads or an official suspect, Acevedo is urging anyone with information to immediately contact authorities.

"If you live or have a business by the bayou, roll back for the last 24 hours and take an extensive look at any camera you might have," said Acevedo. "If you saw anything suspicious in the last 24 hours [or] just anything that's happened along this bayou, just call us right away."

Moving forward, Acevedo said police are "approaching this as a murder investigation" and has tasked Texas EquuSearch to help conduct additional searches for evidence, such as pulling up maps of the area surrounding the bayou and tracking the area where the girl was reported missing.

"It is a sad day," said Acevedo. "You look over, and you look at a little baby, [and] I can just tell you that we would do anything to have that baby alive now. Our job is to try our very best to find out what happened. That little baby needs justice."

On Saturday, her grandmother cried and begged for her safe return, saying, "She's little. She didn't do anything to anybody."

"We're going to catch them," said Acevedo when asked to relay a message to person or persons who may be responsible. "We're going to find them, and we're going to charge them."
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