Tucson police probe possible abduction of 6-year-old girl

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 22, 2012 11:48 PM
Tucson police probe possible abduction of 6-year-old girl

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Scores of police and federal agents fanned out across 6-mile swath of Tucson, Arizona, for a second day on Sunday in a search for a missing 6-year-old girl who authorities said may have been snatched from her bedroom.

Isabel Mercedes Celis was last seen Friday night when she was tucked into bed. She was reported missing the next morning when a family member entered her room to awaken her and did not find her in bed, police said.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said Sunday that the case was being treated as a possible abduction.

He said the child had no history of wandering off or running away from home as far as police knew. The chief declined to discuss the condition of the bedroom, or say which member of the family found her missing. The girl lives with her mother and father and two older brothers, police said.

Villasenor said the mother had gone to work Saturday morning by the time Isabel was reported to have vanished. He said police had some idea of how an intruder might have gotten into the home, but added, "I don't think there's signs of forced entry."

Asked if the parents had been eliminated as possible suspects in the case, he said, "The family has been cooperating with us. They're currently with detectives." Police spokesman Lieutenant Fabian Pacheco added "we don't have any persons of interest at this time."

After cordoning off the immediate vicinity, search teams made several passes through an area stretching 3 miles in all directions from the family's home, police said.

Pacheco said investigators questioned all 17 registered sex offenders in that area, but those interviews turned up no clues.

Investigators also were canvassing residents and local merchants and handing out fliers with Isabel's photo and looking for any video from surveillance cameras that might have captured something.

"It's a door-to-door search," Villasenor said, adding that as many as 200 people had been "working nonstop on this case."

(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Greg McCune and Stacey Joyce)