HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, Ark. (KSLA) — A bridge in Southwest Arkansas now stands as a permanent memorial to a Houston girl who died tragically.
Hempstead County, Ark., leaders, law officers and citizens took action Saturday they say will always be a reminder of what happened at Exit 18 on Interstate 30.
For nearly six months, a temporary memorial for Maleah Davis has stood at that exit.
It was there that the 4-year-old’s body was found.
Her mother’s boyfriend is accused of dumping the child’s body.
Maleah’s plight touched many in the ArkLaTex and nationwide.
So Hempstead County leaders and the state of Arkansas moved to establish a permanent memorial for her.
“We found a little angel in our life; we will never want her to wilt,” Fulton, Ark., Mayor Henry Hale III said.
Led by local and state law enforcement agencies, a group of residents marched to the Exit 18 bridge Saturday to formally change the name of the structure to the Maleah Davis Memorial Bridge.
“And when we pass this place, may we be reminded that there is evil in this world but love triumphs evil,” Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton said.
Houston Assistant Police Chief Bobby Dobbins was among those on hand for the bridge dedication.
“It makes us feel great we have partners here such as in Arkansas and other states,” he said.
“But the community that came together behind this case really makes us feel good. It gives you a fresh feeling about humanity.”
Houston is not without crime and violence, Dobbins said, but Maleah’s death hit the city’s Police Department hard.
“A death like this breaks your heart every time you come across it.”
The Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office was the catalyst in getting the bridge renamed.
Singleton said he hopes the bridge will serve a bigger purpose than just a memorial.
“I just want to bring attention to all the exploited and missing children throughout the country. We need to take a stand for our children, if nothing else.”
Members of the crowd responded: “Amen, amen brother.”