It’s been nearly three weeks since Derion Vence reported 4-year-old Maleah Davis missing. Although Vence is now in Harris County jail for allegedly tampering with a human corpse in connection to the girl’s disappearance, his father is defending his son’s innocence.
During an appearance on the YouTube Channel IckedMel, Vence's father, Joe D. Vence, said his son loved Maleah like she was his own daughter.
“(Derion) loved that family,” Joe D. Vence told host Melvin Cedeno. “He did everything to stay with the girl when we was trying to tell him no she’s not right.”
During the 48-minute interview, Joe D. Vence said he believes Derion is being set up.
"I just feel they set him up some sort of way," Joe Vence said. "I know he didn't do anything to her. He loves her. He's been taking care of her since she was 1 years old."
"She told my son the night of the disappearance, I'm about to get a Lifetime movie out of this," Joe D. Vence said.
Joe did not specify when on the night May 5 the comments were allegedly made by Bowens, who maintains she had nothing to do with Maleah's disappearance.
Derion was arrested after the Houston Police Department found blood linked to Maleah’s DNA in the apartment he shared with Bowens. Cadaver dogs also reacted to the scent of decomposition in the trunk of his car.
Joe D. Vence has his own explanation for why blood was found in his son’s apartment bathroom.
“It’s [Maleah’s] brother’s blood from his toothbrush,” Joe D. Vence said. “It’s not her blood.”
“That’s why it says traces of blood related to Maleah because it’s her brother’s. It’s like the [district attorney] was really pressing to get something going on this case because of the publicity,” Joe explained when Cedeno asked him to clarify.
When asked about the surveillance photos showing Derion walking in the house with bleach and walking out with a large black trash bag, Joe said, "He was actually doing laundry. He cleans the house. He cooks. He takes the kids to daycare. He does all of those things."
In August 2018, Maleah and her brothers were removed from Vence and Bowen’s home after Maleah suffered a serious head injury. Joe refuted all claims that Derion Vence was ever abusive to Maleah and said Bowens should not have left the girl alone if that were the case.
"He's not a violent person," Joe D. Vence said. "He has no violent past at all. Why would you leave your children at home with him if he's doing all these things?"
"I believe my son is innocent and I believe his story," Joe D. Vence added.
After the official Texas EquuSearch for Maleah was suspended with no sign of Maleah, community members and relatives have held gatherings for her.
On May 19, a community vigil and balloon release was held for Maleah in Brewster Park. During the event, people released balloons with Maleah’s name and prayers for her safe return into the air.
Outraged Houston residents also held demonstrations outside the offices of Child Protective Services. Protesters with Parents Against Predators held signs and demanded to know why the child was placed back in the care of Bowens and Vence after the abuse allegations, reported Click2Houston.
“We want everybody that's responsible held accountable, everybody. CPS, the judge, the mom, step-dad, everybody,” founder Sonia Parker told the local news channel.