On this set of episodes from Late Edition Crime Beat Chronicles, we sift through many details of the 2012 disappearance and death of 6-year-old Isabel Celis and 2014 kidnapping and murder of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez.
You’ll be hearing from Arizona Daily Star reporter Caitlin Schmidt. But first, we travel back to April 25, 2012, shortly after Isabel first went missing.
Isabel was last seen by her parents at 11 p.m. on April 21 when she was put to bed. Her father discovered she was missing the next morning, police said. Police completed a search of the Celis home in the 5600 block of East 12th Street, near East Broadway and South Craycroft Road, at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday but would not comment on what was found.
Thousands of fliers were passed out. Landfills were searched as well as lakes and basins. Isabel’s parents Sergio and Becky Celis had come under some criticism for not speaking to the media or the public in the effort to find their daughter. More money poured into the search effort, but no more leads for years.
Then on June 3, 2014 — two years after Isabel Celis first went missing — another young girl, Maribel Gonzalez, 13, told her mother she was going to a friend’s house. Three days later her body was found near West Avra Valley Road by a Pima County sheriff’s deputy responding to a call about suspicious activity. A few days after her body was discovered, a Pima County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by unspecified means.
In March 2017, Isabel’s body was in a rural area of Pima County nearly five years after she disappeared. Police Chief Chris Magnus said it wasn’t happenstance. An autopsy later that year confirmed it was a homicide. The bones that were recovered were redacted from the report, but an included chart of a human skeleton show part of a pelvis and several skull bones that are a darker color than the rest of the body.
Next time on Late Edition Crime Beat Chronicles, we go deeper into the connection between these two young girls’ cases and the man on trial for their murders. If you like what we do here at Late Edition: Crime Beat Chronicles, please be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
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