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Entries in Tucson (62)

Sunday
Jan272013

Hikers Trapped by Raging Flood Waters Rescued in Arizona 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Search and rescue teams rescued dozens of hikers Saturday who were stranded by raging flood waters in Bear Canyon near Tucson.

The teams used ropes and flotation devices to rescue the 40 to 50 adult and children hikers who were trapped in high waters after heavy rains caused surprise floods. Waters apparently rose in Bear Canyon hours after a heavy downpour ended. Police responded to 911 calls on foot and in the air and used infrared technology to locate the stranded hikers.

A Pima County Deputy said police were able to rescue all of the hikers who called in.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

Isabel Celis 911 Calls Released: ‘My Little Girl…I Believe She Was Abducted’

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The father of missing Tucson, Ariz., girl Isabel Celis sounds calm as he describes finding that the 6-year-old has disappeared from her bed and tells police he thinks she was abducted in the recordings of two 911 calls released Monday by police.

“I want to report a missing person,” Sergio Celis says on one of the two recordings, made the morning of April 21. “My little girl, who is 6 years old -- I believe she was abducted from our house.”

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The second recording is of a call featuring Isabel’s 14-year-old brother, Sergio, who later gives the phone to his mother after she returns home from work. Both the boy and his mother are frantic, though the woman seems to control herself when she is asked for specific information about the girl’s height and weight, what she was wearing, and her hair and eyes.

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Police Monday also discussed the decision to bar the elder Sergio Celis from contact with his two sons, though they declined to provide any specifics about the reason for the decision. They said the move should not be interpreted as an indication that Sergio Celis is a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance.

“A voluntary agreement was reached between Child Protective Services and the parents to restrict access or, voluntarily, for Sergio to give some space and distance away from the two older children,” Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said.

“This doesn’t mean that we have settled on a path with this investigation,” he said.

He added that investigators are looking at all possibilities.

“Probably, [there are] about 12 to 15 detectives that are assigned to follow external viewpoints on this investigation, the possibility of a stranger abduction or something of that like,” he said. “And then, we have probably four detectives or so that are following the possibility of inside-the-family involvement.”

Isabel Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. April 21 after her mother left for work and her father went to wake her up. The girl was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, police said. The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. April 20, when she was put to bed.

After Isabel was reported missing, police interviewed 15 registered sex offenders in the neighborhood.

Police have searched homes in the family’s neighborhood, dug through a nearby landfill and searched waterways and drainage systems in Tucson. More than 1,000 tips have poured in regarding the 6-year-old’s disappearance, police said.

Isabel’s parents made several public, emotional pleas for the safe return of their daughter in the days after her disappearance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr282012

Isabel Celis: Tucson Police Looking For Group Seen On Surveillance Video 

ABC News (TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Tucson, Arizona police are looking for a group of five people who were captured on surveillance video leaving a club near the home of Isabel Celis around the time the 6-year-old disappeared.

The three women and two men were captured on camera just a block from the Celis house on the night the girl vanished.

Police said the group was walking away from a club at 1:30 a.m.

"We want them to come forward and tell us did they or did they not see anything unusual," a Tucson police spokesperson said.

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Isabel Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. April 21 after her mother left for work and her father went to wake her up. The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, police said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. April 20, when she was put to bed.

"If this child were abducted out of her house, through a window, out a door, somebody may have seen that," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News consultant.

While the police have not ruled out Celis's parents as suspects, they have said the family has cooperated fully with police during the investigation.

"We have tremendous gratitude to the millions of people around the world who have prayed for Isabel," Becky Celis said. "Please continue to pray for her return. We don't want the focus to be taken off Isabel by talking in front of the cameras."

FBI search dogs, including a scent dog and a cadaver dog, hit on something in the house that police noted was "important" to the investigation on April 22. Police then executed search warrants on the Celis home and other homes in the neighborhood, though they would not say which ones.

Authorities are awaiting lab results of the evidence gathered, sources told ABC News.

Police have searched homes in the family's neighborhood, dug through a nearby landfill and searched waterways and drainage systems in Tucson, but so far have few leads.

The missing girl's parents issued a plea this week for the safe return of their daughter.

"Just please, please, to the person or persons who have Isabel, tell us what you want. We will do anything for her. We're looking for you, Isa," Sergio Celis, the girl's father, said tearfully.

Standing with family members clad in matching "Bring Isa Home" t-shirts, Celis and his wife, Becky, spoke directly to their daughter's captor, saying in both English and Spanish that they would do anything for her return. The parents have offered $6,000 for information about her disappearance.

Police noted that there are 15 registered sex offenders in the neighborhood, all of whom have been interviewed by police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Parents of Isabel Celis, Arizona 6-Year-Old, Plead for Return

ABC (TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Pleading for the safe return of their 6-year-old daughter Wednesday, the parents of missing Tucson girl Isabel Celis spoke publicly for the first time.

"Just please, please, to the person or persons who have Isabel, tell us what you want. We will do anything for her. We're looking for you, Isa," Sergio Celis, the girl's father, said tearfully Wednesday.

Standing with family members clad in matching "Bring Isa Home" T-shirts, Celis and his wife, Becky, spoke directly to their daughter's captor, saying in both English and Spanish that they would do anything for her return. The parents have offered $6,000 for information about her disappearance.

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Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after her mother left for work and her father went to wake her up. The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, police said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

While the police have not ruled out Celis's parents as suspects, they have said the family has cooperated fully with police during the investigation.

"We have tremendous gratitude to the millions of people around the world who have prayed for Isabel," Becky Celis said. "Please continue to pray for her return. We don't want the focus to be taken off Isabel by talking in front of the cameras."

Police have continued to look for Celis this week by searching homes in the neighborhood, digging through a nearby landfill, and searching waterways and drainage systems in Tucson Wednesday. Investigators have also obtained surveillance video footage, including that from a camera pointed at the Celis house from only 75 yards away, that might yield clues from Friday night or early Saturday morning, police have said.

FBI search dogs, including a scent dog and a cadaver dog, hit on something in the house that police noted was "important" to the investigation on Sunday. Police then executed search warrants on the Celis home and other homes in the neighborhood, though they would not say which ones.

Police noted that there are 15 registered sex offenders in the neighborhood, all of whom have been interviewed by police.

Tuesday night, a behavioral profile team from the FBI searched the Celis family's home and interviewed family members, but police are still asking for leads from the community.

ABC News obtained a police questionnaire detectives used to interview neighbors, which asks whether they have surveillance cameras, heard dogs barking the night of the girl's disappearance, and know any of Celis's normal habits and routines.

Police have scaled back the search operations near the family's home, but said they will focus in on specific areas beginning Wednesday to try to solve the case.

"We love you and we miss you so much, and we will never give up, never give up looking for you," the girl's father said Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Clues for Missing Tucson Girl Sought in Surveillance Video

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The answer to how 6-year-old Isabel Celis disappeared from her Tucson home last Saturday may be found in surveillance videos from neighboring houses and stores, police said Wednesday.

One camera is attached to a home just 75 yards away and points directly at the Celis family's house, while others are attached to nearby businesses. Police hope they could yield clues to the girl's overnight disappearance.

Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after her mother left for work and her father went to wake her up. The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, police said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

On Wednesday, police will extend their search for the girl to drainage and water systems in the nearby area, Tucson police chief Roberto Villasenor said at a press conference.

During the prior four days, police have scoured the neighborhood for clues, searching nearby homes and a landfill where trash was taken the day of Celis's disappearance.

FBI-trained search dogs, including one cadaver dog, were brought into the family's home where they hit upon something that police said was important to the investigation.

On Tuesday night, an FBI team specializing in behavior profiles searched the Celis family home and interviewed the family members. The family is now allowed back in their home following the search, but has not yet returned, Villasenor said.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Missing Tucson Girl's Family Allowed Back in Home

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The family of a missing 6-year-old girl, Isabel Mercedes Celis, from Tucson will be allowed to reenter their home Tuesday after police finished searching for evidence and clues to the girl's Saturday disappearance.

Police wrapped up their search early Tuesday morning after serving their final search warrant on the home around 1:30 a.m., Sgt. Marco Borboa of the Tucson police department said Tuesday.

Investigators had previously found the girl's bedroom window opened and the screen removed while searching the home this weekend, and FBI-trained dogs "hit upon" something during one of the searches.

Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after Celis' mother left for work and her father went to wake her up. The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

Police say they have received more than 200 leads on the case in the past two days, in addition to tips received on Saturday, immediately after the disappearance. Investigators are still combing through those leads, Borboa said Tuesday.

For the past three days, Tucson police have focused on a three mile radius of the girl's home, knocking on doors and speaking to neighbors, in addition to searching a nearby landfill. Garbage from the Celis family's neighborhood was collected on the Saturday morning of Isabel's disappearance and taken to the landfill, police said.

Police also searched the homes of a number of residences close to where Isabel disappeared, including one home on the same street as the girl's house.

Police would not say which residences were searched, but did acknowledge that more than 15 registered sex offenders live within a three mile radius of the family's home, including at least one who lives in the immediate vicinity.

Police have not ruled out the parents of the missing child as suspects.

"We are investigating all of the parties involved," he said Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Missing Tucson Girl's Family Will 'Never Give Up Finding Her

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Relatives of Isabel Mercedes Celis, a 6-year-old girl who went missing from her Tucson, Ariz., bedroom over the weekend, say they will "never give up" in their efforts to track her down.

"We appreciate everyone's interest in finding our daughter, Isabel, and thank all the volunteers who have come out to search for her," the family said in a statement read by the Tucson Police Department.

"We are cooperating fully with authorities and are focused only on her safe return," the statement said.  "We appreciate all your energy and efforts and continue to need the community's help.  Please call the TPD if you have any information.  We love Isabel and will never give up finding her.  Thank you for all your support."

Tucson police searched the homes of a number of residences on Monday close to where Celis disappeared, including one home on the same street as the girl's house.

The search entered day three on Monday with investigators combing a nearby landfill, canvassing the neighborhood interviewing residents, and examining evidence that FBI search dogs "hit" in the Celis family home.

Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after Celis' mother left for work and her father went to wake her up.  The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Search for Missing Tucson Girl Isabel Celis Checks Nearby Homes

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Tucson police searched a number of residences Monday close to where 6-year-old Isabel Mercedes Celis has disappeared, including one home on the same street as the girl's house.

The search for the missing girl entered day three Monday with investigators combing a nearby landfill, canvassing the neighborhood, interviewing residents, and examining evidence that FBI search dogs "hit" in the Celis family home.

Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after Celis' mother had left for work and her father went to wake her up. The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

Villasenor would not say which residences were searched Monday, after police obtained warrants for the case, but did acknowledge that more than 15 registered sex offenders live within a three-mile radius of the family's home, including at least one who lives in the immediate vicinity.

Detectives have interviewed all of the offenders, he said.

The search for Celis intensified after two FBI search dogs hit upon something in the Celis family home overnight. Villasenor noted that there was a cadaver dog and a scent dog used in the search.

"We have information we obtained from the dogs that has necessitated more follow-up investigation," Villasenor said Monday.

Police evacuated the Celis family from their home Monday following the dog search, Villasenor said. They are treating the house as a crime scene.

Police have not ruled out the parents of the missing child as suspects.

Investigators also continued to search a nearby landfill Monday where garbage was taken after being picked up at the Celis' home on Saturday, Villasenor said. Having police turn to a landfill for evidence of the girl was a grim turn in the investigation.

Celis' uncle, Justin Mastromarino, told ABC News that the girl's mother is devastated over the disappearance of her "sweet little girl."

"They're very upset right now, mother is beside herself. We're just trying to let police do their thing and get as much info as possible," said Mastromarino.

Mastromarino said her family is a loving one.

More than 250 people helped search the area around the Celis' Tucson neighborhood this weekend, including canvassing neighbors to ask about any possible leads.

Celis' family told ABC News on Sunday that they have no doubt she was kidnapped by a stranger.

"You don't think anything like that would actually really happen to you. And all of sudden, you wake up one morning and you're in that scenario. Everything goes through your mind, you're angry, you're upset, you're frustrated, you're confused," Mastromarino said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Missing Arizona Girl: K-9s Find Clue in House

ABC News(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- The search for missing 6-year-old Isabel Mercedes Celis intensified Monday after specially trained police dogs found something in the girl's home, which piqued investigators' interests.

"We have information we obtained from the dogs that has necessitated more follow-up investigation," Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said Monday.

Police have evacuated the Celis family from their home after the FBI-trained dogs found something during a search overnight.

Isabel was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. Saturday after the girl’s mother had left for work and her father went to wake her up. The child was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, Villasenor said.

The little girl was last seen around 11 p.m. Friday, when she was put to bed, he said.

Police upgraded the search from a missing child to a possible abduction this weekend, and have not ruled out the parents of the missing child as suspects.

Ground and air searches for the girl will continue Monday. More than 250 people have helped search the area around the Celis' Tucson neighborhood this weekend, including canvassing neighbors to ask about any possible leads.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

Open Window Shows Missing Tucson Girl Was Abducted, Parents Say

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Isabel Mercedes Celis’ window had been pushed open and the blind was pushed to the side when the 6-year-old disappeared from her Tucson, Ariz., home this weekend, her parents said, and police said they have found a “suspicious … entry point.”

Celis’ parents said they last saw their daughter Friday night around 11 p.m. in her bedroom.  When Celis’ father went to wake her up on Saturday morning, she was gone, but the window was open, police said.  There was no broken glass.

“She was checked on at about 8 o’clock so they can start their day.  And she was not in her room at that point,” Tucson Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Maria Hawke said.

Initially, police treated the disappearance as a missing persons case, but they have reclassified the case as a suspicious lost child or possible abduction and are exploring all possibilities.

Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said in a press conference on Sunday that there were still questions about whether anyone had forced their way into the house.

“We have a location where we think that could be a possible location of entry, but there’s also questions that we’re looking into on that,” he said.  “The family has been cooperating with us…but we’re not ruling out anything of this investigation.”

Hawke said Sunday evening that police had found “suspicious circumstances around a possible entry point,” and were investigating further.

Police have served some search warrants in the case, the police chief said, but he would not go into details.

Scores of police, FBI agents and federal marshals are engaged in a massive manhunt, which includes aerial grid searches and checkpoints on the ground.  FBI dogs are also being flown out from Virginia to help with the search.

Villasenor said anywhere from 150 to 250 people are working on the case.

 Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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