"We believe we have a little girl who's been murdered, we believe that she's out there somewhere, and we want to bring her home," Acevedo said on Thursday.
Maleah's mother Brittany Bowens reportedly left the girl with Vence, with whom she had recently ended her engagement, to fly to Massachusetts to attend her father's funeral. Vence originally told Bowens that he, Maleah, and his 1-year-old son were abducted by three men, and that he and the boy were released but Maleah was still missing.
But police said his story didn't add up. They also found blood evidence linked to Maleah in the apartment he shared with Bowens and Maleah. Footage from May 3 reportedly shows Vence carrying multiple bottles of bleach in and out of the apartment, along with a laundry basket containing a black garbage bag.
"I couldn't [help] but ask, 'Is that Maleah?'" Bowens said in a recent interview. "Why do you have that basket when you just got laundry from my mother on the 1st? What are you doing with the basket? What is that? I know our routine. That's not laundry."
Vence's father Joe D. Vence has defended his son. "I believe my son is innocent and I believe his story," he said in a recent interview.
Acevedo said he believes Vence knows where Maleah is and has been deceptive with police. Vence has reportedly refused to provide police with details on Maleah's whereabouts.
"We strongly believe he knows where she's at, and if he wanted to tell us he would," Acevedo said. "But if he's not telling us — which he's not — we want the public to come forward."
"I really believe in my heart of hearts, somebody knows something," Acevedo said. "Somebody has seen something, and somebody hasn't come forward."
Acevedo has offered a $5,000 reward to help find Maleah, even "if I have to pay it myself," he said. Maleah's maternal aunt and uncle have pledged $10,000 for information leading to her discovery, and Houston Crime Stoppers has put up a reward of $5,000.
The police is asking anyone with information on this case to contact the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS.