It’s been nearly two years since Becky and Sergio Celis last saw their only daughter, then 6-year-old Isabel, who vanished from their midtown home.
As the anniversary of her disappearance looms, her parents said this week the family remains hopeful she’ll come home and hopes new efforts by Tucson police will help shed light on her disappearance.
In January, eight new detectives were assigned to review the case and have conducted new interviews and reinterviewed people, according to a statement from the Tucson Police Department.
“It’s a new team and we’re hoping that maybe asking different questions or just having a little bit of time pass someone will remember something,” Becky Celis said earlier this week.
Sergio Celis said he hopes the department is applying the same scrutiny to new leads as they did to the family in the beginning of the investigation.
Both he and Becky faced intense public scrutiny in the weeks after their daughter went missing. At one point, Sergio entered into an agreement with state child protective services that he would not have contact for a period of time with his two sons, Isabel’s older brothers.
“That was my main hope when everything revamped that hopefully they’ll go in a more appropriate direction that they weren’t looking at from the beginning,” Sergio said.
The couple said there is one family member who has been uncooperative with the investigation and hope that police have the opportunity to interview him.
They say the relative moved out of his apartment shortly after Isabel disappeared and hasn’t been in contact with the family.
“At this point we want every and any avenue checked and re-checked, so we can close that door,” Becky said.
Much of the public attention the case received during the first few months has waned, but Becky said at least once a week someone will ask about Isabel and tell the family they are still thinking about her and keeping her in their prayers.
“There’s still lots of hope and it’s going to be Isa’s angel that’s going to bring her home, and we need the community to keep their eyes open,” she said.
They have spent the last two years trying to stay busy as a family. They’ve taken a few quick trips out of town for work or school-related activities but say they don’t want to go to new places or make lasting memories without Isabel. Isabel’s two brothers are active in local baseball leagues, and Becky is helping take care of her young nephew.
Isabel was reported missing from her home near Broadway and Craycroft Road on April 21, 2012.
Sergio discovered she was gone when he went to wake her for her baseball game that morning. Becky had already left for her job as a nurse at Tucson Medical Center.
The last time she saw Isabel was the night before around 11:30 p.m., when she moved her from the master bedroom, where she had fallen asleep, to her own bedroom. Local and federal authorities investigated thousands of leads in the days and weeks after Isabel disappeared.
Authorities spent weeks searching Isabel’s neighborhood, parks and a landfill, and questioning residents for evidence related to Isabel’s case.
No suspects have ever been publicly identified by police.
This year, police recanvassed Isabel’s neighborhood and went to 305 homes. Forty-two interviews were conducted in Tucson, other cities in Arizona and in California, Texas and Washington.
Police investigated 30 tips made through 88-CRIME, which included dog searches, and contacting other law enforcement agencies in Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina Pennsylvania and Mexico. A total of 2,192 leads have been investigated this year.
How to help
Isabel has light brown hair and hazel eyes. She was 3-feet-8 inches tall and weighed 44 pounds when she was last seen. One top tooth and one bottom tooth were missing and she was wearing a blue tank top and navy blue basketball shorts when she was last seen. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME. A reward remains in place.