Community activist Quanell X, who advocated for Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens, told ABC13 Eyewitness News of the discovery. Hours earlier, Quanell told reporters that the suspect in the disappearance, Derion Vence, confessed that the girl died by accident and her body was dumped in Arkansas.
Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton added a road crew in Fulton, Arkansas, located the bag with a foul odor.
It's not yet confirmed whether the remains belong to the little girl, however the remains arrived in Houston Friday night for further investigation.
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science says they have the body of the child that was recovered, and is working to process the identification. They say the identification will take some time.
Houston police, who sent officers to Arkansas, said the remains are that of a child, but it's still not known if it is indeed Maleah.
On Friday, Quanell, told reporters about the new information he claimed to have received from Derion Vence, the suspect in Maleah's disappearance.
Quanell said he met earlier in the day with Vence, who has been behind bars since May 11. Among the key details shared with reporters, Quanell said Maleah is dead as a result of an accident. He did not specify how she died.
"All I can say is he told me it was an accident, and that she is dead and where he dumped her body," Quanell said.
Quanell met with reporters in a southwest Houston parking lot where he also met with Texas EquuSearch and detectives about what Vence told him.
Quanell withheld where he was told the body was dumped, only to say it was somewhere in Arkansas. He added that Vence was specific about the "distance and time" of the body's location.
"He said he pulled over in Arkansas, got out of the car, walked off the side of the road, and dumped her body off the side of the road," Quanell said.
Quanell also revealed that Maleah's body was dumped there "early on," possibly indicating shortly after when the girl was first reported missing. The time of her death was not indicated.
Pressed on whether he believed Vence's latest story, Quannel was confident this is truthful.
"I think it's the truth. I don't think he was lying to me. I think he was telling the truth. Many men have confessed to this type of crime," he said.
Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch added that he thinks the details are true enough to move the search to Arkansas. He added he didn't believe many searchers would be needed based on their information.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg weighed on the new developments, adding there has not been a plea deal in the case. Ogg's office released this statement:
Let's let search teams do what search teams do. We have spoken with the defendant's lawyer and there is no agreement. We continue to work with the Houston Police Department to bring justice for Maleah Davis.
Vence was once engaged to Bowens.
Vence is in jail, facing a charge of tampering with evidence, namely a corpse. Law enforcement has not confirmed whether Maleah has died, but many officials indicated she is not likely alive.
Maleah was reported missing on May 4 by Vence, who was her primary caretaker while Bowens was out of town for a funeral.
According to investigators, Vence claimed that on May 3 he was attacked while stopping to check a tire while on his way to the Bush Intercontinental Airport to pick up Bowens. Maleah and Vence's 1-year-old son were with him.
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He told police he was knocked unconscious by three Hispanic men, later regaining consciousness 24 hours later in the area of First Colony Mall. His son was with him but Maleah was not. He later entered a hospital in Sugar Land, where he told police that Maleah went missing.
From there, an exhaustive search across Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties intensified in the weeks after the reported disappearance.
In the middle of the search, investigators began disputing the details of Vence's story. Turning their attention to Vence and the apartment where Maleah lived in, authorities obtained surveillance video showing the girl with Vence in the week before her disappearance.
In addition, they found blood evidence in the apartment. Vence was arrested just a week after he first reported the girl missing.
Since the arrest, Maleah's mother drew anger from community members who believed she neglected the girl by putting her in harm's way with Vence. Houston police Chief Art Acevedo also weighed in, saying there were obvious holes in Vence's story.
In addition, Maleah's head injury and subsequent custody by CPS last year drew intense scrutiny over the mom. The girl, as well as her siblings, were returned to the home when her injuries were determined to be from a fall.
Over the weeks of the search, a reward totaling up to $27,500 has been offered for information leading to finding Maleah. Vence has been uncooperative with investigators, according to Acevedo.
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