Remains found in garbage bag in search area for Maleah Davis; foul odor coming from inside

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UPDATE: #1 (3:55 P.M.)

Remains were found in a bag Friday near the search scene for Maleah Davis in Hope, Arkansas, according to law enforcement officials.

There has been no identification made on the remains.

Authorities said road crews found a garbage bag emitting a foul odor near Exit 18 in Fulton, Arkansas, which is about 14 miles southwest of Hope.

Authorities started searching for the missing girl in Arkansas after Maleah’s stepfather reportedly told a community activist that the 4-year-old’s body was dumped at the first Hope exit coming from Texarkana.

Derion Vence has been in jail since May 11, when he was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Maleah’s disappearance after investigators said blood found in the family’s southwest Houston apartment matched DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.

Community activist Quanell X said Vence told him Friday morning that Maleah is dead and that her death was the result of an accident. He said Vence confessed to dumping her body in Arkansas.

“He said that 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 X said.

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ORIGINAL STORY (3:00 P.M.)

Local, state and federal authorities have converged on an area off of I-30 near Hope in southwest Arkansas, where the body of a missing 4-year-old Houston girl is believed to have been dumped. 

Police have cordoned off the Exit 18 eastbound on-ramp to Fulton with police tape, where the focus of the search appeared to intensify shortly after 2 p.m. Friday. 

The search comes after civil rights activist Quanell X revealed at a news conference Friday morning that Vence told him that Maleah’s death was an accident and that he had confessed to dumping her body somewhere in Arkansas.

A short time later, Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton confirmed that he has been in touch with Houston police and that they were coordinating a search. At the time, Singleton said Vence was being flown into the area to assist in the search. Singleton has since said that those plans changed and that Vence was not being brought in after all. 

Houston police confirmed early Friday afternoon that they are in contact with officials in Arkansas and that their homicide detectives were on their way to Arkansas to follow up on “new information” received in the search for Maleah Davis.

Vence has been in jail since May 11 when he was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Maleah’s disappearance after investigators said blood found in the family’s southwest Houston apartment matched DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.

KPRC reported earlier Friday that Tim Miller, of Texas EquuSearch, said he had chartered a flight Friday to Arkansas where teams will conduct a search for Maleah.

According to investigators, Vence said he, Maleah and Maleah’s younger brother were attacked April 30 when he stopped to inspect a damaged tire. He said he was knocked out during the attack and when he regained consciousness, Maleah and the family’s car were missing.

Vence reported Maleah missing May 3 when he went to a Sugar Land hospital for treatment of his injuries he said he suffered during the April 30 attack.

Investigators said there have been inconsistencies in Vence’s story.

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