Police search for missing 6-year-old Arizona girl
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The overnight disappearance of a 6-year-old Arizona girl triggered a massive search Saturday by scores of police, FBI agents and a large contingent of deputy U.S. Marshals, with officials saying her absence was suspicious and a possible abduction.
First-grader Isabel Mercedes Celis's parents last saw her in bed at 11 p.m. Friday, and they discovered her missing at about 8 a.m. Saturday, Tucson police spokeswoman Sgt. Maria Hawke said.
Police searched an area of Tucson around East Broadway Boulevard and Craycroft Road into the evening using street patrols, canines, detectives and a helicopter.
A large number of officers were still searching "pretty much the entire east side" late Saturday night, police communications operator Patrick Olea said.
Shortly before midnight, Hawke said the search would continue early Sunday, with numerous patrol and search and rescue personnel fanning out in a grid pattern.
Friends of the family fanned out to distribute fliers with a photo of Isabel, KVOA-TV in Tucson reported.
"We're really surprised or shocked that anything like this could happen to our family," the girl's uncle, Justin Mastromarino, told the television station.
Hawke said earlier that investigators were looking into all potential scenarios, including the possibility that Isabel got up and wandered out of the home she shares with her parents and two brothers.
But late Saturday, when asked if police still think she might have wandered away, Hawke responded: "We are treating it as a suspicious disappearance and possible abduction."
Investigators also were examining every door and window of the house for signs of a break-in, Hawke said.
Both parents live in the home, so police had no indication a child custody dispute was involved but weren't completely ruling it out.
"Because of the possibility existing that this child could have been abducted, we're treating it as if it's that significant," Hawke said Saturday afternoon. "We don't want to be caught behind the ball by not exploring that possibility."
The working-class neighborhood of single-family homes is sandwiched between a large shopping mall to the east and businesses and a Catholic school to the west.
Hawke says at least 75 law enforcement officers were involved, possibly as many as 100, as more resources continue to arrive to help in the search and investigate the disappearance.
Isabel is described as just under 4-feet-tall and weighing 44 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.