A Houston mom is using her artistic talents to honor the memory of Maleah Davis by sculpting a bronze statue in her likeness.
Shirley Scarpetta said she felt inclined to do so because as a mother, Davis’ heartbreaking story hit home.
“It’s just something that touched my soul,” she said in an interview with CNN. “…It was something I couldn’t get it out of my mind.”
Scarpetta told the outlet that she was offered the opportunity after a private donor commissioned the piece last week. Within one day she completed the base of the structure, but anticipates it will take another month to fully complete the statue. In the interim, the statue will still need to be cast in bronze, while a separate artist completes the statue’s granite base.
Maleah’s story came to a tragic end on May 31 after a month-long search to recover her body. Maleah, who was 4-years-old at the time of death, went missing on April 30, after her mother’s partner, Derion Vence, alerted authorities of her disappearance.
Vence initially claimed he was the victim of a kidnapping effort, where he, his infant son and Maleah were forced into a separate vehicle by three unknown assailants after they experienced a flat tire on the side of the road. However, police officials became suspicious of Vence’s summary of events. He was later arrested and charged with tampering with a corpse in connection to the young girl’s death. After weeks of questioning, he finally led investigators to Maleah’s body, which was recovered near the Arkansas-Texas border.
Maleah’s family held a private memorial for her on June 22, where a company named SoulShine Industries created a “My Little Pony” themed casket after one of Maleah’s favorite characters.
On June 28, the Harris County medical examiner concluded Maleah died from homicidal violence.
Scarpetta hopes her work will be publicly displayed in order to remind the city of Houston and its tourists of what Maleah meant to her family and those who were touched by her story.
“It’s for all of us,” Scarpetta continued. “Our children are so vulnerable, and people need to be reminded to leave a legacy of kindness and loving one another.”