HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The car belonging to the stepfather of missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis has been found.
Police in Houston confirmed the silver Nissan Altima reported stolen by Darion Vence was found Thursday morning in the middle of a strip mall parking lot in Missouri City, Texas, about 17 miles southwest of Houston.
At a press conference Thursday morning Houston Police Department Homicide Detective Ken Fregia said, “Earlier today a citizen, who works for a local taxicab company, noticed the car sitting here in the parking lot. She did the right thing, she called in… to police.”
According to Fregia the car was unlocked when police arrived and they found nothing out of order. “Initial appearance of the car – the car is clean. And I don’t mean that as in somebody’s cleaned it. It’s just, the car looks normal. There’s no obvious signs of anything happening in the car.”
Investigators searched the vehicle but did not go into detail on exactly what was found inside. Maleah’s mother, Brittany Bowens, was also at the scene for a time Thursday. At one point the woman collapsed on the ground crying out, “Where is my baby?”
Heavy rain and flooding in Houston hampered the search for Maleah, but the group Texas EquuSearch, which began looking for the little girl on Monday, had vowed to resume their search today. The group’s founder, Tim Miller, was at the scene as Houston police looked over Vence’s car.
EquuSearch officials vow they are not done and will continue looking for Maleah, but more rain could impact their efforts. “Considering what the weather conditions are predicting, unfortunately it looks like the next three days we may be shutdown again,” said Miller.
It was over the weekend when Vence told investigators that he was driving to the airport to pick up Maleah’s mother when he pulled over to check if it had a flat tire. They say Vence said three men in a pickup truck stopped on the side of the road, knocked him out and abducted him, Maleah and his toddler son.
Authorities say Vence reported the little girl’s abduction at a hospital in Sugar Land on Saturday night. He said he’d been in and out of consciousness for nearly 24 hours and finally woke to find that he was on the side of the road with his son, but Maleah was gone.
Fregia said that despite making several efforts to coordinate a meeting officials haven’t spoken to Vence recently. “Each time we have tried to talk to him or have him come in we have been unsuccessful,” he said. “I can’t say he’s missing. We have not had any contact with him in the last few days.”
Officers are checking with businesses in the strip mall and are collecting any surveillance video that might show who dropped the car off and when.
Investigators say the car will be towed back to Houston to be processed.