Police talk with possible witnesses

One of 5 on video comes forward in case of missing girl
2012-04-29T00:01:00Z 2014-10-24T10:00:59Z Police talk with possible witnessesJamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 29, 2012 12:01 am  • 

One of the men in a group of people caught in a video near the home where Isabel Celis disappeared last weekend came forward Saturday, police said.

Police detectives were interviewing him, with hopes that he would put officers in contact with the rest of the group, said Lt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

The five people were seen in a surveillance video as they walked through a parking lot near St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 215 S. Craycroft Road, between 1 and 1:30 a.m. on April 21, hours before Isabel was reported missing.

The group was headed toward East Cooper Street, which is one street south of East 12th Street, where the Celis home is.

They are not suspects in the 6-year-old's disappearance, but police hope that perhaps the group saw something out of the ordinary that could help them determine what happened to the little girl. Police confirmed that a sixth person who wasn't with the group was briefly seen in the video, Pacheco said at a Saturday afternoon news briefing.

Isabel's parents say they last saw her when they put her to bed at 11 p.m. Friday after they attended a Little League game. When her father went in to wake her at 8 a.m. Saturday, he said, she was gone.

Detectives have interviewed countless people and followed numerous leads, he said.

"We are not focusing on any one such avenue. We're looking at all options," he said. "It's just another thing to look at."

Tucson police have scaled down their search for Isabel and are now focusing on tips they have received, he said.

Investigators "finally got a chance to really sit down and get into the meat of all that information that we've gathered in the past eight days," he said. "This isn't 'CSI Tucson' where we're going to solve this in an hour."

On Friday, police asked Tucsonans to think about whether anyone they know was unaccounted for during the hours when Isabel went missing or has been acting strangely since then. Pacheco said 88-CRIME received 28 tips Saturday before the news briefing.

Within the past few days, Tucson police have also searched lakes at area parks and other bodies of water, and contacted Mexican authorities in Sonora, asking them to check businesses, bus terminals and industrial areas in the Mexican state.

The story so far

Isabel Mercedes Celis was reported missing on April 21. Her parents told police they last saw the 6-year-old at 11 p.m. April 20 when they put her to bed in their midtown home in the 5600 block of East 12th Street, near Broadway and Craycroft Road. Her father called 911 at 8:14 a.m. the following day, saying that when he went to wake her, she was gone.

The first-grader's bedroom window was found open and the screen had been removed, authorities said. Police have not confirmed that the window was an entry point into the Celis home.

Tucson police have been working with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals to follow up on all leads. Authorities continue to call Isabel's disappearance suspicious and a possible abduction.

Isabel stands about 44 inches tall and weighs about 44 pounds. Her hair is light brown and her eyes are hazel. She is missing two of her front teeth, one upper and one lower. She was last seen with her hair in two braids, wearing a blue tank top and navy blue basketball shorts.

Report info

Anyone with information about Isabel's disappearance can call 911 or 88-CRIME (882-7463).

Tucson police have added a new technology to their quest for tips about Isabel Celis' disappearance.

Anyone with an iPhone or Android phone can download "TipSoft," a new app that lets people send anonymous tips online.

People without a smartphone can send a text message to CRIMES (274637). For information specific to Isabel's disappearance, use the keyword "TucsonPD 5265. For information on other cases, use "TucsonPD."

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4115.

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