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Autopsy shows missing girl found in Arizona desert was murdered

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A Tucson girl who was missing for five years before her body was found in the Arizona desert was murdered, an autopsy report showed.

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office released the heavily redacted report this week. A vast majority of details were blacked out, but the report said it was unknown how she was killed.

The report also showed that officials returned to the remote part of Pima County the day after her body was found to recover more remains.

Isabel Celis disappeared from her family’s home in 2012. Her body was found in March.

“The death of a child is a loss to the family and to our entire community,” Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said during a press conference. “On behalf of our department, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Isabel’s family.”

Magnus did not say how investigators came to find Celis’ remains.

Family members said they last saw her in her bedroom the night before she vanished. A window was later found open with the screen pushed aside.

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

Police said whoever was responsible for the abduction had knowledge of the home’s layout.

In the weeks after the disappearance, authorities searched for the child in a 3-square-mile area around her home, including ponds, dry streambeds and empty houses. They also searched her house, but records of that search have been sealed by a judge.

No suspect in her death has been arrested and Magnus said officers are still accepting information.

“This is a very important step in the case, so that’s one of the reasons why we’re still asking the public if they have any leads. 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.”

Magnus said at least 2,200 tips have been received in the case.

Anyone with more information on Celis’ death is asked to call 88-CRIME or the Tucson Police Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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