HOUSTON, Texas — The fate of 4-year-old Maleah Davis broke hearts in Houston.
Now sculptor Shirley Scarpetta is memorializing the girl with a statue, so she is never forgotten. “It’s just something that touched my soul,” she told CNN on Saturday. “…It was something I couldn’t get out of my mind.”
Maleah went missing from her Texas home on April 30 and was found dead on May 31 — her body discarded alongside a road in Fulton, Arkansas, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. The girl’s mother’s former fiancé, Derion Vence, is charged with tampering with a corpse in connection with Maleah’s death.
Scarpetta told CNN that as a mother, the tragedy tugged at her heart and made her want to sculpt the little girl. She said she got the opportunity on Thursday when a private donor commissioned the piece. She said she went to work and completed the base of the sculpture in just one day.
Scarpetta said, for her, Maleah represented all of the children who have been taken from the world too soon. The sculpture, she said, is for them.
“It’s for all of us,” she said. “Our children are so vulnerable, and people need to be reminded to leave a legacy of kindness and loving one another.”
Although Scarpetta finished sculpting the statue, it still needs to be cast in bronze. Scarpetta said it will take about a month to complete. She said someone is building a granite base for it and hopes there will be a public place to display it in Houston.
It’s not the first artistic effort in the girl’s honor. SoulShine Industries built a casket covered in Maleah’s favorite things — rainbows, “My Little Pony — and her favorite color, pink.