Mom keeps faith missing daughter will return

2013-04-20T00:00:00Z 2013-04-20T15:41:52Z Mom keeps faith missing daughter will returnVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Gifts from Santa Claus, Valentine's Day presents and an Easter basket are some of the items sitting in the bedroom of 7-year-old Isabel Celis, marking some of the events she's missed with her family in the year since she was taken from her midtown home.

Her mother, Becky Celis says through her faith in God she has not given up hope that her youngest child and only daughter will be brought home safely.

"She will be home and yes, I'm still as hopeful as ever," Celis said. "(God) has a plan so I have to trust that it will happen, I just have to be patient until she comes home but until then I'm gonna be just making sure I'm ready for her."

Since Isabel was reported missing from her home near Broadway and Craycroft Road on April 21, 2012, police have followed up on thousands of tips but have had no major breaks in the case.  

"Statistics show that the longer the time period that obviously it's not as hopeful, however you always have those cases where years after the event the individual or child is found," said Tucson Police Department Chief Roberto Villaseñor. "So we never give up complete hope but we keep working it from the aspect of all we want to do is bring resolution to the case and to find Isabel and what happened to her."

Detectives are still assigned to the case even though it's not their full-time priority as it was in the beginning of the investigation, Villaseñor said.

Detectives continue to work different parts of the case, Villaseñor said. Some will review statements and reports, some will review video and photos, some will look at the search methods used at the start of the investigation and determine if the right procedures were followed.

In some instances it's the third or fourth time detectives have looked over the information, Villaseñor said.

"At this point we're kind of rechecking everything just to make sure that there's not anything that we missed," he said.

TPD still gets about two or three tips a week pertaining to the case and continues to follow up on them and have not ruled out any suspects or scenarios.

"We're keeping all possibilities open until we solve this case," Villaseñor said. "If we close our mind to any particular avenue then we close our mind to a potential tip that comes in that could open up this investigation."

Celis, her husband Sergio and their two sons, frequently pray for Isabel's safe return and are comforted by believing that this is the only time they will ever have to spend away from her.

The last time Isabel was seen was April 20, 2012. The family came home from one of the boys' baseball games and Celis helped her daughter get ready for her own game the next morning by braiding her hair. The girl started falling asleep in her parents' bedroom and Celis put her in her own room.

Isabel's father discovered her missing the next morning when he went to wake her for her game.

"I could have just kept her in my room," Becky Celis said. "I'm never gonna forget that night and what I could have done or didn't do and would it have made a difference."

A Mass will be dedicated to Isabel and the Celises and volunteers will host a safety-and-awareness event Sunday, one year to the day the first-grader, who loved having her nails painted and hair done, was reported missing.

People are invited to take part in various activities at Peter Piper Pizza, 5925 E. Broadway, including painting rocks the Celises will put in the front of their house in place of candles bearing Isabel's image which have been destroyed by the weather in the last year.

"We're trying to get people to still be aware that Isabel's out there, and we wanted to do something for the community," Becky Celis said.

On StarNet: See a timeline of the efforts to find Isabel Celis after her disappearance one year ago at azstarnet.com/isabel

IF YOU GO

• What: A Day of Safety and Awareness for Isabel Celis

• When: Sunday

• Where: Mass at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 215 S. Craycroft Road at 9:15 a.m. Fingerprinting, Ben's Bells painting, fingerpainting and balloon animals at Peter Piper Pizza, 5925 E. Broadway from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• More information: Peter Piper Pizza will give a percentage of Sunday's sales to the Bring Isa Home fund to help the Celis family pay for bus stop signs displaying Isabel's information. Print out a flier at www.facebook.com/FindIsabelCelis and take to any Peter Piper Location.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.

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

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