FBI profilers will help look for Isabel as hunt is cut back

2012-04-25T00:00:00Z 2012-05-30T13:43:34Z FBI profilers will help look for Isabel as hunt is cut backVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Specially trained FBI profilers have been called to aid in the search for a Tucson girl missing for five days, an incident the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is calling the country's highest-profile case.

Tucson police have also contacted law enforcement agencies in Arizona and across the nation to discuss "cases that are similar or have a similar M.O.," police Lt. Matt Ronstadt said Tuesday night. Other agencies have contacted Tucson police to share cases that are similar and ongoing, he added, declining to elaborate.

Police also said Tuesday that the search of a landfill has ended with no clues found there about the disappearance of 6-year-old Isabel Celis.

Also, the massive search for the missing girl will be scaled back by this morning as police now focus on the investigation aspect of the case, which has generated more than 250 leads.

At its height, about 250 law enforcement officers searched for the first-grader, but those numbers have dropped to about 20 officers still searching the neighborhood, said Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor. Another 30 are working on investigative leads.

"It's a transition of phases. The first part is purely the search, the immediate search," Villaseñor said. "We will continue aspects of that. However, as time goes by and we've searched all the areas that we can think of … then we start phasing in the investigative part."

The FBI behavioral analysts, who in part help profile possible suspects in crimes against children, might "tell us what we're looking for," as police explore more than 100 leads each day about Isabel's whereabouts, said Villaseñor.

The FBI analysts went into the Celis home Tuesday night "to get their own firsthand perspective," Ronstadt said.

Villaseñor said the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has labeled Isabel's case high profile because of the urgency and the lack of information "that points (police) in a definitive direction."

Isabel was last seen by her parents at 11 p.m. Friday when she was put to bed. Her father discovered she was missing the next morning, police said.

Police completed a search of the Celis home in the 5600 block of East 12th Street, near East Broadway and South Craycroft Road, at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday but would not comment on what was found.

The family, including Isabel's mother and father and two older brothers, was allowed to return to the home but it had not done so as of Tuesday afternoon.

Police confirmed that several dogs were in the home during the time of Isabel's disappearance but did not say what breed they are or whether they barked to alert the family to an intruder.

Landfill search done

Authorities also completed the search of the Los Reales Landfill on Tuesday, with 50 officers sifting through trash picked up in Isabel's neighborhood early Saturday. Officers did not use dogs in the landfill because of the overwhelming smells, Villaseñor said.

Officers continued visiting homes and questioning residents within a three-mile radius of Isabel's home and have made contact with 90 to 95 percent of people in those homes, Villaseñor said.

Volunteers have passed out 67,000 fliers since Saturday. Family friends are also preparing meals and shopping for food, clothing and other necessities while the family has been away from home.

Reward up to $6,000 offered

The anonymous tip line 88-CRIME is offering a reward of up to $6,000 for significant information about Isabel's disappearance.

An anonymous donor has given $5,000 and 88-CRIME is offering up to $1,000 toward the reward.

Police continue to call the case a suspicious disappearance or a possible abduction and are focused on finding Isabel unharmed.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed that we haven't found her at this point, but that doesn't mean we're giving up hope," Villaseñor said.

The story so far

First-grader Isabel Celis was reported missing from her midtown home Saturday morning. She was last seen about 11 p.m. Friday when she went to bed.

Police officers, assisted by other agencies, have searched a three-mile radius around her home as well as the city's Los Reales Landfill, which is about seven miles from the house. Authorities have made contact with nearly everyone who lives in that area, including 17 registered sex offenders.

Family and friends have distributed thousands of fliers with Isabel's picture and description. Several Facebook and Twitter pages are devoted to the search. Police have searched the Celis home and a vehicle. A reward has been offered for significant information about Isabel's disappearance.

FBI profilers are now assisting Tucson police in the case.

Reporter Carmen Duarte contributed to this story. Contact reporter Veronica M. Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or 573-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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