Op-Ed: Quanell X: Help or Hinderance?

Nicole Gray | 6/24/2019, 9:50 a.m.
HSM op-ed writer, Nicole Gray, takes deep dive into Quanell X's role in the disappearance of Maleah Davis.
Quanell X (Photo Courtesy of Facebook)

From the writer: To be clear, I am elated that information obtained by Quanell X helped authorities recover the remains of 4-year old Maleah Davis so that her family may finally lay her to rest. Her family has planned a private funeral this Saturday, June 22, 2019, nearly a month and a half after she was first reported missing. As her family says their final goodbyes, many of us still hold out hope that those responsible for little Maleah’s death are brought to justice. Maleah became “Houston’s baby” and captured hearts all over the world when police issued an amber alert in the early morning of May 5, 2019 based on information provided by Maleah’s then caretaker, Derion Vence. Vence was Maleah’s mother’s live-in boyfriend and is the father of her younger brother.

At the time, Vence claimed that he, Maleah and his 2-year-old son had been abducted by three Hispanic males in a blue pick-up truck Friday evening, May 3, 2019 after pulling over en route to pick up the children’s mother from the airport. He claimed the two men assaulted him, stole his vehicle and kidnapped Maleah, leaving he and his son at an unknown location on Highway 6 near Sugarland, Texas the following evening. The search for missing Maleah and the vehicle ensued after Vence presented to Methodist Sugarland hospital late Saturday night with injuries from the alleged incident and the public outcry for Maleah’s return began.

As the case progressed, Houston Police investigators quickly uncovered inconsistencies in Vence’s account after reviewing surveillance video from an apartment nearby the one he shared with Maleah, her mother and two other children. The video showed Vence leaving their apartment twice the early afternoon of the alleged abduction; once carrying a blue laundry basket with a large black trash bag inside, the second time carrying cleaning supplies including bleach. The video did not show him leaving the apartment again until the time he claims he left with the children to get their mother. Contrary to Vence’s story, however, the surveillance footage showed Maleah was not with him and the 2-year-old when they left that Friday evening. Further, footage from surveillance cameras at the hospital showed Vence was dropped off at the hospital in the car that he claimed he had not seen since the alleged abduction.

Just days into the investigation, Maleah’s mother, who authorities confirmed was out of town at time of Maleah’s disappearance, consented to a search of their apartment. Investigators recovered blood evidence in the apartment’s hallway and bathroom that would have been invisible to the unaided eye. This suggested to investigators that an attempt had been made to clean up the blood. The Houston Forensic Science Center later confirmed the blood sample was composed mostly of blood from the then missing 4-year-old. On May 9, 2019, the vehicle in question was located in Missouri City, Texas. But, there was still no sign of Maleah and no charges yet brought in the case. On May 10, 2019, the vehicle was examined and a blue basket similar to the one carried by Vence in the surveillance footage was recovered from the trunk after two separate cadaver dogs responded to the scent of decomposition inside.