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Isabel Celis

Potential witness from video speaks with police in Celis case

Police chief makes plea for more information as fewer tips come in

Investigators in the case of missing 6-year-old Isabel Celis were speaking with a man who identified himself as one of the potential witnesses seen in a surveillance video released Friday night, TPD spokesman Lt. Fabian Pacheco said Saturday.

Pacheco said the man identified himself to Tucson Police, and investigators are hoping to learn the identities of the other man and three women seen in the video that shows the group walking through a parking lot. Police believe the group may have walked east along the north side of Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, 215 S. Craycroft Rd., between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Isabel Celis has been missing for eight days. She was last seen when she went to bed April 20 at 11 p.m., at the family's home in the 5600 block of E. 12th St. Sergio Celis discovered his daughter missing from her bedroom the following morning. After searching the home, the police were contacted around 8 a.m.

Tucson Police have scaled back the search for the girl and continue to pore over the more than 300 leads that have come in. Police are receiving fewer tips since the first days of the investigation, but are averaging about eight to 10 tips and hour, Pacheco said Saturday.

TPD has about 50 detectives and investigators and an additional 40 support personnel working on the case, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said Friday night.

There also are FBI and U.S. Marshals Service personnel working on the case, Pacheco said.

Manuel Barrios, director general for the Sonora State Investigative Police, has distributed information about the case and photographs of Isabel across Sonora. where officers are being told to look at businesses, industrial areas and bus stations, Pacheco said.

At Saturday's press briefing, Pacheco shot down a reporter's question about whether there is a drug-related investigation linked to Isabel's case.

"We are looking at all angles. We are not focusing on any one source," he said.

Police are asking anyone who may have photographs and video taken during a little league game at Freedom Park on April 20 are asked to call 911. The family attended a game in which Isabel's brother played.

In addition, TPD is asking for information from anyone who may have noticed someone they know who has been behaving differently, was missing during the period Isabel disappeared, or has deviated from a regular schedule or normal activities in the last week.

"It may indicate some type of involvement," he said. "We want to look into all possibilities."

Some of the things to look out for, according to TPD:

  • The person may have missed scheduled appointments, work, or other normal activities during the day on Saturday.
  • The person may have disappeared for a period of hours or even days, or may have left the area entirely since last weekend.
  • The person may have exhibited some noticeable behavioral changes. For example:
  • The person may have been more nervous, irritable or secretive than normal.
  • The person may display an unusual interest in the media coverage of Isabel’s disappearance or conversely may not want to discuss the investigation.
  • The person may have unexpectedly cleaned, painted, or altered his vehicle.

Isabel weighs 44 pounds and is 3 feet 8 inches tall. She has long brown hair, hazel eyes and is missing two front teeth, one on the bottom and one on top. TPD has not released any information about what she was last wearing.

With the help of an anonymous donor, the reward for information that leads to Isabel has increased to $30,000, Villaseñor said Friday.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911, 88-CRIME or leave a tip through TPD's new tool that allows people to text anonymous tips or leave them online. Tips also can be made through the Center for Missing & Exploited Children's tip line at (800) THE-LOST, or online through its CyberTipline.

TPD's TipSoft is available as an app for iPhone and Android users, or people can text "CRIMES" (274637) beginning with the keyword "TucsonPD" from any mobile phone. For tips in the Celis case, the keyword is "TucsonPD 5265".

For more information on TipSoft or to leave a tip online, visit TPD's website.

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A statement from the family

The family of Isabel Celis released the following statement Monday:

“We appreciate everyone’s interest in finding our daughter, Isabel, and thank all the volunteers who have come out to search for her. We are cooperating fully with authorities, and are focused only on her safe return. We appreciate all your energy and efforts and continue to need the community’s help. Please call TPD if you have any information. We love Isabel and will never give up finding her. Thank you for all your support.”