HOUSTON — The mother of a missing 4-year-old is begging for her safe return. 

Maleah Davis went missing Friday after her stepdad claims she was kidnapped by three men. Maleah is still recovering from a recent brain surgery and requires critical medical care. 

Around noon on Tuesday, Tim Miller with Texas Equusearch said they are moving search efforts from a wooded area along the Eastex Freeway to southwest Houston. 

“This little girl is not in a place she chose to be,” said Miller. “So, we’ve got to figure out where that place is.”

Volunteers are going to an area near the family's apartment complex on Bissonnet and Kirkwood.

“Early on, I said that we’re certainly hoping for the best, but expecting the worst,” said Miller. “And I certainly expect the worst at this point in time.”

Houston police are asking anyone with information to come forward so she can be found as soon as possible.

MORE: Maleah Davis' stepdad's initial story didn't add up, Sugar Land police say

It is now day four, and there has been no sign of Maleah, but as her mom told CBS This Morning early Tuesday, she’s not losing hope.  

“I have to be strong for her, I have to. I have to believe that she's okay, I have to because that's the only thing that's getting me through this,” said Brittany Bowens, Maleah’s mother.

Tuesday morning, volunteers with Equusearch were back out on Greens Road and Highway 59 in Humble where Meleah's stepfather says she was last seen.

“Obviously it’s an unusual story, and an unusual situation, so we just go where law enforcement tells us to go,” said Koy Murphy, with Texas EquuSearch.

On Monday night, Bowens, her grandmother, Brenda Bowens, and several other people were passing out flyers in Sugar Land looking for clues.

“I love her so much,” sobbed Maleah's mother. “I love her so much. Maleah is a sweet girl, she loves to dance, she’s always happy. I just want to fine Maleah.”

This past Friday, Bowens was flying back from Massachusetts where she was attending her father’s funeral, according to Brenda.

Maleah's stepfather, Darion Vence, told investigators he was driving to Bush Intercontinental Airport Friday with Maleah and his 1-year-old son, Courtland. He said they were headed to pick Brittany up but pulled over near Greens Road thinking he had a flat tire.

While he was out of his car, he says he was approached by two men who were in a blue Chevrolet pickup truck. 

"Two Hispanic males get out. One of the men makes a comment, that Malia looks very sweet, looks very nice," said Mark Hollbrook with Houston police homicide. "One of the males hits Darion in the head. Darion loses consciousness.” 

Vence told police he woke up at about 6 p.m. the next day off Highway 6 in Sugar Land. He says his 1-year-old son was with him but Maleah was no where to be found. 

READ: Where is Maleah Davis? Timeline in the disappearance of 4-year-old Houston girl 

“If she’s listening to this, I want you to know that Nana loves you,“ said Brenda. 

Brenda said she picked up Brittany from the airport Friday when Vence didn't show up. They then went to Vence’s apartment but couldn’t get in.

Brenda says they went back to her house, never assuming the worst. 

Brenda says when they were still unable to get in touch with Vence the next morning, Saturday, they went to police; twice.

Several hours later, Vence and his 1-year-old turned up at Houston Methodist in Sugar Land. Sunday, an Amber Alert was issued for Maleah. 

Since then, it has been a roller coaster of emotions for the family as they beg for the safe return of their precious little girl.

“I just want to find my baby,” cried Brittany, “I just want to find her. Help me find her! Please help me find her.”

RELATED: What are the criteria for an AMBER Alert? 

Maleah is around three feet tall and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. She was wearing a pink bow in her hair, a light blue zip jacket and gray/white/pink sneakers.

Anyone with information on Maleah Davis' whereabouts or either vehicle is urged to contact Houston police at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. Police also want to hear from anyone who may have seen Darion and his son on walking on Highway 6 or Highway 59 on Saturday. 

RELATED: Volunteers searching for Maleah Davis in wooded area near Bush Airport