Police say the remains of Isabel Celis, a Tucson 6-year-old who has been missing since 2012, have been found in “a remote area in Pima County.” KVOA

Tucson police said Friday that the remains of 6-year-old Isabel Celis, who was reported missing in 2012, were found earlier this month.

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said Friday that Isabel’s remains have been found, though he would not offer details about where investigators located the remains or what prompted detectives to search in that area.

Magnus said the remains were found in “rural Pima County” and were sent to Bode Cellmark Forensics in Virginia where DNA evidence was confirmed.

“We see this as absolutely a tragedy,” Magnus said in a news conference Friday afternoon. “We were all hoping to find her alive.”

Isabel was last seen April 20, 2012. Her father reported her missing the next morning after finding she was not in her bedroom.

Police never named any suspects but said they found “suspicious circumstances around a possible entry point” in the home.

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“This is not an ending we would have hoped for, but this is not the end to the case,” Magnus said.

Magnus said investigators are again asking for the public’s help in solving the case.

Police and volunteers conducted exhaustive searches and even renewed a door-to-door effort to find the girl 18 months after her disappearance.

The search began when Sergio Celis went to wake Isabel up for a baseball game, and she wasn’t there. Becky Celis had already left for work. Sergio Celis called authorities.

Police spent the next several weeks interviewing neighbors. They checked surveillance videos of nearby businesses, canvassed parks and even a landfill.

A neighbor said she heard her dogs barking and male voices outside her bedroom window about 6:30 a.m. on the day Isabel was reported missing. The neighbor said there were no sounds that indicated a struggle.


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About a month after her disappearance, police revealed Sergio Celis had been barred from having contact with the girl’s two older brothers for a period of time, but they did not say why.

Sergio Celis said he wants to see detectives apply the same scrutiny to any new leads.

“That was my main hope when everything revamped, that hopefully they’ll go in a more appropriate direction that they weren’t looking at from the beginning,” he said.

The couple said a relative who moved away shortly after Isabel went missing has been uncooperative with the investigation. They hope police will get to interview him. The Celises would only say the relative is someone who hasn’t been in contact with the family.

Someone approaches them at least once a week to say they are thinking of Isabel, Becky Celis said.

Meanwhile, they are trying to maintain a normal life of school and activities for Isabel’s two older brothers. But they say they are resistant to make new memories without their “Isa.”

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