Remains Found Inside Garbage Bag in Arkansas ID'd as Maleah Davis

Derion Vence reported the 4-year-old Houston girl missing on May 4

The remains discovered in a black garbage bag in Arkansas Friday have been positively identified as those of 4-year-old Maleah Davis.

KPRC-TV on Monday reported the confirmation from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston, Texas. The report said Davis' cause and manner of death will be determined after additional testing and investigation.

The remains had been flown back to Houston after they were discovered.

Crews were searching in Fulton, Arkansas, after a road clean-up crew found a black garbage bag on the roadside "emitting a foul odor." Police learned earlier in the day that the missing girl's stepfather told an activist Friday morning that the girl's death was accidental and that he'd dumped her body in Arkansas.

Though police in Houston believed Maleah Davis was killed, her death was not confirmed and investigators, having reached a dead end in trying to find her remains, asked for the public's help in locating her body.

The search began Friday after Quanell X, a civil rights activist and the former spokesman for the missing girl's mother, Brittany Bowens, told an assembled group of reporters in Houston that he spoke with Maleah Davis' stepfather Derion Vence that morning and that Vence said the child's death was accidental. He said he then drove to Arkansas and dumped her body somewhere off the side of the road.

Sheriff James Singleton, of Hempstead County, Arkansas, talks about the search for Maleah Davis near Fulton, Arkansas, Friday, May 31, 2019.

"This morning I was able to meet with Mr. Vance, the stepfather of Maleah Davis, and we had a long conversation. We spoke about details around Maleah's disappearance ... we talked about several things. One thing he wanted to make clear to me was, what happened to Maleah was an accident," Quanell X said. "He says it was an accident and he confessed to me where he dumped her body."

Quanell X said Friday morning that Vence was specific with him about how the girl died and where he left her body, all information he shared with police but that he didn't want to share publicly.

Vence reported the girl missing in early May, saying she'd been abducted after he pulled over on a Houston highway. Police later said the story didn't add up.

Surveillance video from a neighbor showed Vence carrying a large, blue laundry basket with a large trash bag from his apartment on May 3, said Pat Stayton, a prosecutor with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Vence returned three minutes later without the basket and later he was seen leaving the apartment with cleaning supplies, including bleach.

He has been in jail since May 11 when he was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Davis' disappearance. Investigators said they found blood in the family's apartment that matched the girl's DNA but up to this point have not confirmed her death or filed any charges related to her death.

Police have described Vence as Maleah's stepfather, but Quanell X said previously that Vence and Bowens were recently in a fight and she broke off their engagement.

Child Protective Services removed Maleah and her brothers from the home Vence and Bowens shared in August after the girl suffered a head wound, but the children were returned in February, according to an agency spokeswoman.

Check back for updates to this breaking news story.

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