Missing Arizona Girl Found Dead 5 Years After Vanishing from Her Bed — but the Case Isn't Closed
On Friday, nearly five years after investigators believe 6-year-old Isabel Celis was taken in Tucson, Arizona, police announced they had found her remainsis
On Friday, nearly five years after investigators believe 6-year-old Isabel Celis was taken from her bed in Tucson, Arizona, police announced they had found her remains in a remote area nearby, PEOPLE confirms.
“This is not the ending that any of us hoped for, but it is also not the ending of the case,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus told reporters, according to Fox 17.
A portion of Isabel’s remains were sent to an independent lab for DNA analysis, Tucson police said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“Unfortunately, the results of this DNA analysis did confirm that the remains were those of Isabel Celis,” Chief Magnus said Friday.
The search for Isabel began on April 21, 2012, after her father discovered her missing from her bedroom on a Saturday morning in early spring. Her case garnered national attention — triggering one of the largest searches for a missing child in Arizona’s history.
Police said they found the little girl’s remains in March but did not disclose what led them to the rural part of Pima County, Arizona, where they were discovered.
No arrests have been made. Magnus declined to discuss whether there are any suspects in the case, according to the Arizona Daily Star. (Tucson police did not immediately returns PEOPLE’s call for comment.)
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In a statement issued through Tucson Medical Center, where Isabel’s mother works as a nurse, her family said they were grateful and heartbroken.
“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,” they said, the Daily Star reports. “Now is our time to mourn. We ask for our privacy during this time so that we can do that.”
The family said they had no additional comment.
A Broken Screen in Isabel’s Bedroom
Described as a happy-go-lucky child who liked to wear her hair in braids and had two missing teeth, Isabel was last seen by her family when she went to bed about 11 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2012, according to police.
Her father discovered that she was missing at 8 a.m. the next morning when he went to wake her up, police said. Her mother had left for work an hour earlier.
Immediately after Isabel vanished, more than 100 law enforcement officials — including FBI and U.S. Marshals — began to search for her.
Tucson police said at the time that they believed she was kidnapped from her home, citing a broken screen they found in her bedroom.
“We have a window that was opened and a screen removed,” then-Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said in 2012, according to CNN.
“We’re labeling it as suspicious circumstances and a possible abduction,” Villaseñor said.
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In the statement after confirming Isabel’s death, Tucson police said they “will continue to actively pursue those responsible for any involvement in Isabel’s disappearance and death, and will pursue prosecution to the highest level possible.”
Officials will not be releasing further details at this time since that “could have unintended consequences,” police said.
“As we move forward in our investigation, we will release additional details as they become available.”
Tucson police are still asking anyone with information about this case to please call 88-CRIME. Tips can be anonymous.
While confirmation of Isabel’s death “may provide some degree of closure,” the police statement reads, “this also sadly ends the hope of bringing Isabel home safely to her family.”