Maleah Davis’ fanciful casket captures the essence of a playful four-year-old who was happy and cheerful and loved “My Little Pony.”
Thanks to the work of the heart by Trey Ganem’s SoulShine Industries of Texas, Maleah will be laid out in a casket that personifies the beautiful little girl she was, in spite of meeting a tragic, gruesome death and having her body decapitated allegedly at the hands of her step-father Derion Vence.
Ganem said he received tons of calls from total strangers asking if they could perhaps create a casket that would speak to Maleah’s spirit and innocence, reports Inside Edition.
“We probably got 200 people asking us to help this family out,” Ganem told the outlet.
Ganem and his wife read about Maleah’s heart-wrenching story and jumped on board to help out in a big way. The casket is decorated with Maleah’s image riding a pony along with rainbows and clouds.
“My passion purpose is to help others, and I couldn’t fathom [her death],” Ganem said. “I have kids, they’re grown now, and my heart hurt; I just wanted to do what I could to help the family.”
Maleah went missing and was last seen April 30. Her step-dad, Vence initially told police that he, Maleah and his son were carjacked by two Hispanic men and he was knocked unconscious for hours before waking up to discover the girl was gone. From there his story unraveled, until he ultimately admitted that she was dead and where her body could be recovered.
On May 31, Maleah’s body was found in a garbage bag on the side of a road in Hope, Arkansas.
He has since been charged with tampering with evidence and remains in jail pending a full investigation. He denied murdering the child, but those charges could likely be upgraded to murder.
“She touched the lives of many; our shining, beautiful little girl, the light of our lives and the star of our hearts who leaves us smiling through our tears,” Maleah’s obituary read. “She was happiness personified.”
Maleah loved the things little girls tend to gravitate to like music, dancing, the color pink and “My Little Pony.”
“She loved Rainbow Dash,” Ganem said about one of the show’s characters. “That kind of steered us in the direction we went with.”
It took 12 hours, Ganem said to bring Maleah’s whimsical casket to life.
Ganem said inside the casket is upholstered with rainbow fabric and more images from My Little Pony.
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Craig Davis, Maleah’s biological dad posted a photo of the casket on social media. “We made it look like she was there with them,” Ganem said.
Creating such a personal piece of work with such dire circumstances attached was hard for Ganem and his team.
“It was very emotional,” Ganem said. “They were crying up there, working on stuff. You could hear it in everybody’s voice; this was just something super, super special. This one really grabbed us.”
“It was so much more than wanting to do caskets … when [people] look at the caskets that are created by us … they will stand in front of a casket for 30 minutes to an hour, telling stories about their loved ones,” Ganem said. “It’s so beautiful. It goes from a dark time to the light starting to come in. This is the healing process.”
In the end, the Davis family were happy and thankful with the results.
“They loved it,” Ganem said. “They were giving hugs and were just so appreciative, just so happy they were going to be able to lay this beautiful baby to rest in this … it was an honor.”
Maleah’s private funeral is scheduled for Saturday.