The man accused of killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis led investigators to her remains in the desert northwest of Tucson after asking for unrelated burglary charges to be dropped, new court documents show.
Christopher Matthew Clements, 36, also asked that his impounded car be released if he showed investigators where to find Isabel’s remains, according to a search warrant filed in Pima County Superior Court.
Clements also is accused in the killing of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez, and the search warrant says, without elaborating, that DNA taken from Maribel’s body was linked to Clements.
In Isabel’s case, the big break came in February of 2017, when Clements’ girlfriend called the FBI and said he knew where Isabel’s body had been dumped after she went missing in 2012, the records say.
The girlfriend later told investigators that she only knew of Isabel’s name because while talking on the phone with Clements, who was in jail at the time, he told her to retrieve a bag that was buried in the yard of her home. A piece of paper with Isabel’s name was in the bag.
Clements apparently tried to avoid using Isabel’s name over the phone. Calls from jail are recorded.
When Clements’ girlfriend notified the FBI, Clements was in the Pima County jail on unrelated burglary charges. He told investigators that he wouldn’t lead them to Isabel until his two pending charges here were dismissed and his car was released.
Agents agreed to Clements’ terms.
On March 3, 2017, Clements directed FBI agents to a desert area near Avra Valley and Trico roads where Isabel’s remains were found. Investigators realized it was the same area where Maribel’s body was found in 2014, just days after she went missing.
Clements told investigators that he did not kidnap or kill Isabel, and refused to give more information, the records say.
He later told investigators that he had a video of Isabel’s father in a local pawnshop and implied it would help with the investigation. He also said he might know where a murder weapon was located.
After he led investigators to Isabel’s remains, Clements’ burglary charges were dismissed per the agreement. But he was transferred to the Maricopa County jail on another burglary-related case, and he remains jailed there.
Clements later told investigators he’d give them information about the video and murder weapon if they agreed to drop the burglary charge in Maricopa County and release him from jail.
In September of 2017, deputies with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant at Clements’ girlfriend’s home.
They were able to find a letter from Clements, in which he talked about the area where he led the FBI agents. The letter implied that there were four bodies left in the desert area, and Clements claimed to have evidence about all four.
“He tells (his girlfriend) he is debating having her go to the media with this information, saying that it would create a frenzy and would put pressure on law enforcement,” so that officials might drop his Maricopa County case, documents say.
After Clements’ girlfriend moved out of her home, investigators obtained a search warrant for the yard. They found a child’s purple sweatshirt and schoolwork with the name “Mercedez” on it. Mercedes was Isabel’s middle name.
“There were also what appeared to be ashes buried in the ground underneath the items,” the search warrant says.
Investigators also searched computers during their investigation of Clements where they found sexually explicit photos of children and internet searches for “Isabel Celis sexy,” “child killer found not guilty,” “body found in desert” and “trace evidence found on body.”
There were also two internet searches involving a 6-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman who were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered in Hawaii. Both cases were solved, and men were convicted.
Investigators also interviewed a man who was in the Pima County jail at the same time as Clements.
Clements supposedly told the man that he knew where Isabel was, and that he might have evidence in his car, which was likely the same car he wanted released from law enforcement in the earlier agreement.
Clements apparently told the man that Isabel’s body was in a desert. He also showed the man photos of what is said to be Isabel’s home.
While talking to the man, Clements most often spoke in third-person but sometimes slipped and talked in first-person, the documents say.
Clements has a long criminal history, which started when he was a teenager. He was arrested and convicted of molesting a 4-year-old girl, the search warrant says.
Clements is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday in Tucson.