Entries in Tuscon (7)


Isabel Celis: Missing Tucson Girl's Brothers Removed From Care of One Parent

ABC News(TUSCON, Ariz.) -- The two older brothers of missing Tucson girl Isabel Celis were removed from the care of one parent on Friday after Child Protective Services consulted with police.

Authorities declined to say which parent, Sergio or Becky, has custody of the children.

"There's a lot of details that I can't share with you: what got us to this point, what was that information," Lt. Fabian Pacheco of the Tucson Police Department told ABC News' Tucson affiliate.

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 six-year-old 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.

Police haven't eliminated anyone as a suspect, including the Celis family. They also haven't eliminated the possibility that investigators will find Isabel and bring her home safely.

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 six-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.

"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 said tearfully.

The search has also extended into Mexico, where authorities in the state of Sonora have been circulating photos of Isabel.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Isabel Celis: Man Captured in Surveillance Video Comes Forward, Search Expanded

ABC News (TUSCON, Ariz.) -- A man captured in a surveillance video could be a key witness in the case of a missing Tucson, Ariz. girl as authorities expand their search into Mexico.

A group of five people were captured on surveillance video leaving a club near the Celis family home 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.

Police said the group was walking away from a club at 1:30 a.m. in the direction of the Celis' home.

One of the men has come forward to police, but police are not yet saying what he has told them.


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The new surveillance video comes as the search for Isabel widens, crossing over into Mexico.

On Saturday, U.S. marshals asked Mexican police for help checking hotels, bus terminals, and businesses in the border town of Sonora where Isabel's photo is being circulated.

"The idea of having Mexico involved I think is a logical idea and a good idea at this point…"The idea that somebody crossed and picked up Isabel and then went back into Mexico is actually realistic," said former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett.

Tucson is close to the Mexican border and many in the city are either from Mexico or have connections there.

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.

She 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


Isabel Celis: 6-Year-Old Girl Vanishes From Tucson, Arizona Home

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(TUSCON, Ariz.) -- Isabel Mercedes Celis’ disappearance from her Tucson Ariz. home this weekend is being described as an unusual case, with police saying there’s no evidence she was taken from the residence or that she left on her own.

Celis’ parents last saw their 6-year-old daughter Friday night around 11 p.m. in her bedroom.

When Celis’ father went to wake her up on Saturday morning, she was gone.

“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,” said Sgt. Maria Hawke of the Tucson Police Department.

Police are exploring all possibilities.

“We don’t have an actual piece of evidence that points us in one direction or another so for example we don’t have a piece of evidence that says she was definitively taken from the residence. We don’t have any specific piece of evidence that tells us she left the residence on her own,” said Hawke.

Isabel’s family has 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,” said Isabel’s uncle and family spokesperson Justin Mastromarino.

Mastromarino said Isabel’s bedroom window was open. He also said her family is a loving one.

“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 described his niece as “just a sweet little girl.”

“All the ambition in the world. She could do whatever she wanted. Didn’t really like strangers or anything like that so very close knitted and just very wise,” said Mastromarino.

Scores of police, FBI agents and federal marshals are engaged in a massive manhunt, which include aerial grid searches and checkpoints on the ground. They have virtually locked down the neighborhood, asking anyone if they’ve seen Isabel. Police have kept everyone away from the home as they look for any signs of damage or forced entry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arizona Man Found Living With Mother’s Corpse

Comstock/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- A Tucson, Ariz., man was arrested after a foul odor led police to discover that he had been living with his mother’s decomposing corpse.

“The person was found in a bathtub, I believe, and may have either been bound or was found in some circumstance [for police] to believe she may not have died naturally,”  Dr. Gregory Hess, Pima County’s Chief Medical Examiner, told ABC affiliate KGUN-TV in Tucson, Ariz.

The gender and identity of the body was not immediately apparent to officers at the scene, given the state of decomposition.

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the body was that of Carmelita Aguilar, 47. Aguilar’s son, Christopher, 25, had been living with her body for an unspecified period of time.

“He was aware that a person was deceased inside the apartment and concealed the death for some time while continuing to live in the apartment,” Sgt. Maria Hawke of the Tucson Police Department said in a statement.

Aguilar was arrested on a charge of abandonment/concealment of a body. Authorities said they have not yet determined whether Aguilar was responsible for his mother’s death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jared Lee Loughner Ordered Back to Tucson

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Federal Judge Larry Alan Burns has ordered that Jared Lee Loughner return to Tucson, Ariz., to attend a hearing on his competency to stand trial for killing six people and wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Loughner has been in a treatment facility in Springfield, Missouri, since May, when he was found incompetent to stand trial.

The government is asking the court to extend Loughner’s commitment at the facility for the purposes of restoring him to competency to stand trial.

Loughner’s lawyers oppose the extension and are asking the court to find that the government has “failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial probability that Mr. Loughner’s mental condition can be improved such that the trial might proceed.”

The Bureau of Prisons has said in court papers that Loughner remains incompetent, but that he has “slowly responded to medication.”

Loughner’s lawyers say the forced medicine has made him worse.

“He is on a host of psychotropic medications,” they write in court papers, “all administered against his will."  The lawyers note that the side effects of the medication include restlessness, agitation, pacing, dizziness, thick tongue and constipation.

The hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 1:30 in Tucson.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly, Rep. Giffords' Husband, to Retire 

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, announced Tuesday he is retiring from NASA to spend time with his wife and write a memoir with her.

"This was not an easy decision," he wrote on his Facebook page. Public service has been more than a job for me and my family." Rep. Giffords was shot in January in Tucson at an event she was hosting for residents of her Congressional district. Six others died and 13 were injured.

Kelly's retirement from NASA and the Navy, where he has served for 25 years, is effective Oct. 1. He has flown in space four times. He announced this morning that he and his wife have a deal with Scribner's publishers for a joint memoir. They said they will collaborate with Jeffrey Zaslow, best known for his work on Randy Pausch's best-selling "The Last Lecture."

Kelly wrote, "Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together."

After the shooting Kelly faced an awful decision. He was assigned to command the space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight into space, but was unsure he could prepare for the mission while tending to his injured wife. He was finally persuaded she was recovering and was in good hands, and was at the controls when Endeavour lifted off May 16 on a two-week flight to the International Space Station.

The shooting, and the public attention that followed, brought Kelly a measure of fame that few modern astronauts have experienced, and which he never sought. He said he thought the focus should be on the mission, the upcoming end of the space shuttle program, and the $2 billion Alpha-Magnetic Spectrometer Endeavour carried to the space station to explore the makeup of the universe.

"It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore," said Kelly by radio to mission control in the moments before launch. "We must not stop. To all the millions watching today including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drug SWAT Team That Gunned Down Ex-Marine Found No Drugs

Comstock/Thinkstock(TUSCON, Ariz.) -- The SWAT team that gunned down an ex-Marine in his own home was targeting him as part of a drug and home-invasion probe, but no drugs were found in the home, documents released by the Pima County sheriff's office show.

SWAT team members acknowledge in interviews that Jose Guerena never fired his weapon before the officers broke down his door and killed him with a barrage of 71 bullets, shown in a dramatic helmet-cam video released Thursday.

Guerena, 26, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, was asleep after working a night shift at the Asarco copper mine when his wife, Vanessa, saw the team outside her youngest son's bedroom window and yelled to her husband. He grabbed his AR-15 rifle.

Vanessa Guerena didn't know the men were SWAT officers and thought they might be home invaders, especially because two members of her sister-in-law's family were killed last year in their Tucson home, her lawyer, Chris Scileppi, said.

The video and audiotapes released also shows the police officers did briefly use a siren and announced who they were, shouting "police, search warrant, open the door" in English and Spanish as they arrived at Guerena's Tucson home on May 5.

A SWAT officer, Sgt. Bob Krygier, told officials of the sheriff's office who are investigating the incident that the raid on Guerena's home was probing "possible drug running, home invasions and potential homicides."

He said "many guns" were found in the house, including the AR15 that Guerena was holding, another rifle, and a handgun. Body armor was also found and a U.S. Border Patrol hat, he said. "He was well-armed, well armored," Krygier said, but when asked if Guerena was wearing body armor at the time of his death, he said, "no…he basically had a pair of boxer briefs on and that was it."

"They're just putting out lies," Reyna Ortiz, a relative who is helping to care for his wife Vanessa and her two young sons, said of the report.

Mike Storie, an attorney representing the SWAT officers, said the video clearly refutes allegations that the officers did not announce who they were as they arrived at the home. He said the officers didn't necessarily expect to find drugs.

But protests in the community continue. Guerena's widow will join members of the Oathkeepers, a group of veterans and law-enforcement officials, for a Memorial Day rally Monday at the Guerena home . The Oathkeepers say on their website that they are determined "to take a stand against the egregious policy of using SWAT teams to serve search warrants on veterans and gun owners with no violent criminal history."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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