Police in Houston have issued an Amber Alert for a missing 5-year-old girl whose stepfather claims she was abducted by three men during an alleged carjacking over the weekend.
A desperate search is now underway for Maleah Davis, 5, who recently underwent brain surgery and requires a lot of care, according to police.
Authorities said the young girl was last seen Friday night when, according to stepdad Darion Vence, three Latino men assaulted him and briefly held the family hostage before taking Davis. Vence’s 1-year-old son was also with them at the time, police said.
The young girl was last seen wearing a pink hair bow, a light blue zip-up jacket, a pair of blue jeans and sneakers. Davis is described as an African-American female child standing about 3 feet tall with black hair and dark brown eyes.
At a Saturday press conference, Sgt. Mark Holbrook of the Houston Police Department‘s Homicide Division detailed the series of events that allegedly led to Vence and his don being dumped on the side of the road — with Davis nowhere to be found. Vence, 26, told police he and the kids were headed to pick up Davis’ mother from Bush Intercontinental Airport when they experienced car trouble.
“He hears a popping noise like he has a flat tire, pulls over to check on it,” Holbrook said. “According to Darion, what happens next is a blue pickup truck pulls up behind him, two Hispanic males get out. One of them makes a comment, saying that Maleah looks very nice, looks very sweet.”
That’s when Vence claims one the men struck him in the head, knocking him unconscious. The Houston man told police he was floating in and out of consciousness, but remembers being in the back of the suspect’s car with his son and Davis. He said there were now three men in the vehicle, driving them around the city.
It wasn’t until 6 p.m. Saturday that Vence says he woke up on the side of the Southwest Freeway near State Highway 6 in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, according to police. His son was unharmed and at his side. However, Davis was not.
“He begins walking around,” Holbrook said, recounting the man’s story. “He tries to summon help. Nobody’s really helping him.”
Authorities said Vence walked with his son to Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital around 10 or 11 p.m. and was treated for injuries he suffered in the alleged attack.
Meanwhile, authorities said Maleah’s mother arrived at the airport from a trip to Massachusetts and called for another family member to come get her after Vence did not show up. She never reported her boyfriend or her kids missing, however.
“I don’t want to speculate,” Holbrook said when asked if police were wary of Vence’s story. The purpose of the news conference, he said, was to employ the public’s help to find the missing girl.
“We’d love the public to help us so we can fill in the blanks in this story,” he added. “I realize there are a lot of blanks in that story, but we’re hoping the public can fill in the blanks.”
So far, Holbrook said investigators have found no evidence, including security footage or witnesses, to back up Vence’s story.
Police have since issued an all-points bulletin for the family’s silver Nissan Altima and have also spoken to Maleah’s biological father, who they said is cooperating with the investigation.
The family’s car was last spotted by a traffic camera at an intersection in Sugar Land just before 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Anyone with information on Maleah Davis’ whereabouts is asked to call the Houston Police Department at (713) 308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at (713) 222-TIPS.