HOUSTON - The mother of a missing 4-year-old at the center of a citywide search is telling her side in an interview with FOX 26 News reporter Damali Keith.
“I feel like I'm in a nightmare, a really bad nightmare that I can't come out of,” says Brittany Bowens.
Unfortunately, this is Bowens’ reality. Her 4-year-old daughter, Maleah Davis, has been missing for nearly two weeks.
“I just feel so broken. I do. My heart feels so broken,” she cried.
Bowens’ ex-fiance Derion Vence is arrested in connection with her daughter's disappearance. She has this to say to him.
“You hid from me and you left me. I have no feelings for that man. I don't have no feelings for him at this point. He was the last person to see my daughter. I seen you when you came home. You didn't say anything to me. I stood up for you. I wanted to believe your story,” Bowens said.
Bowens is referring to Vence’s claim of being knocked out by kidnappers after he says he, Maleah and their youngest son were all abducted and only Maleah never made it away from them.
“I know it didn't make sense, but as a mother, I would rather hear that than to hear that somebody I loved killed my daughter. I would rather hear that,” she said.
But was someone she loved hurting her daughter long before the 4-year-old girl disappeared?
According to criminal court records, little Maleah suffered a traumatic brain injury so severe, she had to have surgery.
“It was like, ‘What? What do you mean she had an injury?’ All I know is when she fell from the…” Bowens began to explain but was stopped by community activist Quanell X.
“No. See, now you're getting into CPS stuff. No,” Quanell X says. He goes on to say, “She's learned a lot now since this unfortunate tragedy. She did not know he was bringing Maleah back home when she should have been in daycare.”
So does Bowens feel something had happened inside their home that she didn't protect Maleah from?
“I'm not sure. I was always home. Always home. I didn't start working until January, because I was in school and I only went to school a couple days out of the week,” Bowens answers.
It was at the family's apartment that detectives say surveillance video shows Maleah walking in and never coming out. Instead, Vence is seen coming out with a laundry basket with a trash bag inside.
“My first thoughts were, ‘We just did laundry. What are you doing with that basket?’”
Bowens says she was in Massachusetts at her father’s funeral at the time.
Investigators have found Maleah's blood at the apartment, a place that was once home, but Bowens realizes it may be the last place her daughter was alive.
“I stayed there one night, and I laid in her bed. I laid in her bed. As a mother, I want to have hope. That hope is giving me a peace of mind. I have to believe that (Maleah is still alive), but at the same time, I have to be realistic too, that she could possibly be gone,” Bowens said.
Bowens says she wants to know more than anyone or anything else what happened to her daughter, but not everyone believes she is in the dark about what happened to her daughter.
Bowens found herself in the midst of a mob at the Harris County Courthouse, who believes she’s to blame for her for Maleah's disappearance.
“Everything was just overwhelming. I've never had to ever deal with those kind of things. I mean, you see things like that on TV,” says Bowens.
“Unbearable. I've taken a lot of losses but I don't know if I can take this one," she said. “I love my children unconditionally, no matter what. It's absurd that somebody would think that I would have something to do with that."
Vence and Bowens broke up shortly before she went out of town, which is also in question, but Bowens says she did attend her father's funeral May in Massachusetts.
So why did she leave her daughter with Vence? She told FOX 26 she didn't have the money to take Maleah with her.
“This is a financially struggling family living from nickle to nickle,” explains Quanell X.
“It's hard, because I feel like I haven't had a chance to grieve my father, who I was close to. I'm still stuck,” says Bowens, who says it was after Maleah went missing when she learned Vence was keeping secrets regarding her daughter.
“I don't have no feelings for this man (Vence). I have no feelings for him at this point," she said.
“He had not always taken her (Maleah) to daycare like he said, and would wait for her (Brittany) to go to work or go to school then bring Maleah back into the house,” says X.
“Me and her (Maleah) had a great bond. She was my only daughter. We did everything together,” she said.
But there was that traumatic brain injury Maleah suffered and the severe problems that followed.
“Her skull wasn't forming the way it should have so they had to perform a surgery on her,” Bowens said.
According to criminal court records, CPS was looking into the family because of Maleah's injuries, even before Maleah disappeared, but Bowens isn't discussing that investigation.
“I feel like it's not enough I could tell you. It's traumatizing,” Bowens said through tears.
Bowens says she’s grateful for all of the people searching for Maleah and supporting them with balloon releases and vigils. She also says she’s praying her daughter, one way or another, will be found.