Child Protective Services workers went to Isabel Celis' home in December, months before the 6-year-old was reported missing.
CPS representatives would not discuss the case. Tucson police Lt. Fabian Pacheco confirmed the department was aware of the CPS visit to the Celis home but said he did not know the circumstances.
Officials with CPS and the Tucson Police Department recently said the child-welfare agency had been involved in the case since Isabel was reported missing on April 21. But Wednesday morning, Pacheco said investigators were aware CPS had made contact with the family much earlier.
"The earlier case, we are aware of that," Pacheco said. "I don't know if they were open or closed, but there were previous CPS contacts."
Isabel's disappearance has drawn international attention and more than 1,000 tips, although no suspects have been identified. Police have also not ruled out Isabel's parents, Sergio and Becky Celis, as suspects.
Police recently confirmed the case is an abduction.
"We are not identifying any person or persons of interest," Pacheco said. "We haven't narrowed it down to anyone in particular."
Pacheco said he was not familiar with the details of CPS' involvement with the Celis family, but during the earlier stages of the investigation detectives had spoken to CPS workers about the agency's history with the family.
"I am not aware of why they were summoned there," he said. "I know there was a previous contact there for their agency."
Details of CPS' contact with the family, and how the agency followed up with the report, remain unclear. In an email, Tasya Peterson, a Child Protective Services spokeswoman, said officials would not comment about any case history with the Celis family. The agency is working closely with Tucson police and could not confirm, clarify or correct any information about prior contact.
"The Department has previously stated that it is working closely with the Tucson Police Department on the Celis case and we are not confirming, clarifying or correcting at this time due to the sensitive nature of this case and for the best interest of the children," Peterson wrote.
Wednesday afternoon, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor recast Pacheco's comments, saying they should not be interpreted as confirmation that CPS had prior involvement with the Celis family in December. He said Tucson police officers are working closely with workers at the child-welfare agency, but it would be inappropriate for police to comment about what contact, if any, CPS made with the family.
"We have had CPS with us since Day One," he said. "We have advised them, and they have been involved. We are aware of what information they have, however we don't comment on that."
Wednesday evening, Becky Celis had not responded to a message left through Facebook.
After a meeting between police and CPS officials last week, Isabel's two older brothers were placed with the mother, and the father agreed to have no contact with them.
Contact Josh Brodesky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4242.