HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The Houston police chief says evidence shows that a 4-year-old girl who has been missing since earlier this month was killed and he’s asking for the public’s help in finding her body.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference Thursday that finding the body of Maleah Davis will allow her family to have a proper burial for her.

Four-year-old Maleah Davis (Credit: Houston PD)

“She deserves to be found, she deserves to be recovered and she deserves to have a proper burial,” Chief Acevedo said.

Davis was reported missing earlier this month by her mother’s former fiance, Derion Vence. He told police that he, Maleah and his 2-year-old son were abducted on May 3 by a group of men in a truck after he pulled over on a Houston highway. He said he and his son were freed the next day, but the kidnappers kept Maleah and his vehicle. Police later said the story didn’t add up.

Acevedo said Thursday that he believes Vence knows where the child is but has not told police. Vence is being held on a charge of tampering with evidence, specifically a human corpse. Investigators found blood in Vence’s apartment and search dogs detected the scent of human decomposition in his car when it was found.

Derion Vence mugshot (Credit: Houston Police Department/Twitter)

“We strongly believe he knows where she’s at and if he wanted to tell us, he would,” the chief said.

Executive Assistant Chief Matt Slinkard, who also spoke at the news conference, said: “We are not receiving the level of cooperation we need from anybody involved at this point.”

In addition to asking anyone who may have seen something or has information about the case to come forward, Acevedo also implored the public to be vigilant when out in places that are not heavily traveled, such as hiking trails and wooded areas. He said to look out for things like out-of-place soil.

Chief Acevedo tweeted, “Please help us bring this sweet baby girl home. If you have any information contact or homicide.”

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)