The remains of Isabel Celis, who disappeared from her eastside home in April 2012, were located in a remote area of Pima County.
Isabel was only 6 years old when she disappeared from her bedroom under suspicious circumstances on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Over the years authorities worked through more than 2,200 leads, but the case went nowhere.
The case that has haunted law enforcement and southern Arizona residents alike took a turn earlier this month when remains were found in rural Pima County.
On Friday, March 31, the Tucson Police Department confirmed DNA analysis of the remains proved they belong to Isabel.
“Although this confirmation may bring some degree of closure, of course it also ends the hope of bringing Isabel home safely to her family,” said TPD Chief Chris Magnus.
Magnus did not say how long the remains were in that location but he did say they were not found by accident.
“It was not a happenstance,” he said. “There has been on going process of many searches, this was not a happenstance. I cannot get into any greater detail than that.”
Magnus said the investigation is still ongoing and anyone with any information should call 88-CRIME. Callers can remain anonymous.
“We believe there may still be folks out there who perhaps know something or feel now that they’re willing to come forward with information that may be helpful,” he said. “Don’t assume that we have all the information, if people have tips they should contact us.”
The Celis family released the following statement through the Tucson Medical Center.
“We want to thank the community for the support they have continued to show for Isa over the years and for refusing to give up hope,” the family said. “Now is our time to mourn. We ask for our privacy during this time so that we can do that.”
While Magnus did not release the exact location of the discovery, he did say the area was thoroughly processed for further evidence.
Magnus said he could not release information on any possible suspects but said he could not answer when asked if anyone was in custody.
People who live near the Celis home said they vividly remember the night Isabel went missing. Some said they have never given up hope that she would be found safe.
David Pike said he has had Isabel’s missing poster on the front door of his house all this time. He said he was there that morning Isabel went missing and remembers her brother rushing over in a panic.
“He said my sister is missing and I said ‘what do you mean your sister is missing?,'” Pike said. “I’d been hoping that she would make it home.”
Pike said Friday’s announcement left him devastated and saddened.
Pike said he understands why the family would want to leave the home and memories behind.
Friends and loved ones have started a memorial at the family’s home.
People were seen leaving these purple balloons on the front gate of the home in her memory.
“Although this is a terribly disappointing development, we never stopped searching for Isabel Celis,” the Tucson Police Officer’s Association said on the Facebook page. “And we will never stop in our pursuit of justice for her.”