More than 300 at Mass pray for Isabel, family

Investigators examine 350+ leads in 6-year-old's disappearance
2012-04-30T00:01:00Z 2014-08-01T12:00:43Z More than 300 at Mass pray for Isabel, familyCarmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 30, 2012 12:01 am  • 

It's been nine days, and while Tucson police concede that the case of missing Isabel Mercedes Celis could turn cold, detectives have not given up hope.

Lt. Fabian Pacheco on Sunday said tips continued coming in over the weekend as investigators pored over more than 350 leads in the disappearance of the 6-year-old Little League player who was reported missing from her home shortly after 8 a.m. April 21.

Detectives are again listening to taped statements taken in the days after Isabel's disappearance.

"On the initial days when those interviews were taken, they may not mean much, but perhaps, nine days later, we can have a better perspective as to how they apply to the overall investigation," Pacheco said. "I don't want to give the connotation that we're losing hope in any way. It is something difficult to deal with."

At a Mass offered for Isabel and her family Sunday, the Rev. Miguel Mariano, pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church, spoke to a photo of Isabel.

"A lot of people are looking for you. ... The whole world is looking for you," Mariano said. "Continue to say, 'Jesus. Jesus.' ... It will melt the heart and hearts of those people who did this to you."

During the Offertory, four of Isabel's cousins took gifts to the altar, including her stuffed polar bear, dressed in purple - Isabel's favorite color.

Mariano also asked the more than 300 people in attendance to pray for investigators on the case.

Detectives have spoken to several people in a group of five captured on a surveillance camera walking in Isabel's neighborhood the morning of her disappearance. Police still need to identify a sixth person also shown on the surveillance video.

About a dozen FBI agents and other federal and local authorities continue to assist in the case, Pacheco said.

Law enforcement officials in Sonora, Mexico, have also searched bus terminals, industrial complexes and restaurants, but nothing has proved fruitful, Pacheco said, including a report of an Isabel sighting in Magdalena de Kino.

Volunteers and co-workers of Isabel's mother, Becky Celis, a Tucson Medical Center nurse, continue manning a makeshift volunteer post in the shopping-center parking lot at South Craycroft Road and East Broadway where T-shirts, votive candles, buttons - adorned with Isabel's face - are for sale to raise reward money and to help the family.

The Celis home, which has been searched by Tucson police and an FBI behavioral-analyst unit, has been released to the family, though family members have chosen not to return home, Pacheco said.

An 88-CRIME reward in the case is now $50,000.

How to help

Anyone with information can call 911 or 88-CRIME (882-7463).

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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