Dozens of missing children cases in AZ still unsolved

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Dozens of missing children cases in AZ still unsolved

CREATED May 25, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) -  National Missing Children's Day is observed every year on May 25 in honor of 6-year-old Etan Patz, one of the most notorious unsolved missing child cases.  This year, Homicide Survivors and local law enforcement are raising awareness about missing children, as they continue to search for local missing child 6-year-old Isabel Celis.

"When I look around this room and when I watch the slides of these missing children, the parent in me takes over," said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor at a National Missing Children's Day event.  He wants families of missing children to know they're still searching.

"I'm sure they get angry when we can't solve the case but that doesn't mean that we're going to stop trying," he said.

Police are more than a month into an investigation on the disappearance of Isabel Celis.  Meanwhile, new developments in Etan Patz' New York case is bringing renewed hope that families of missing children everywhere could someday find answers.  Thirty-three years after the boy disappeared, police arrested a man accused of luring and killing Patz, and charged him with second-degree murder.

"Thirty-three Years later tips led to the arrest of the person suspected of killing that beautiful child Etan," said Homicide Survivors director Carol Gaxiola.

In Arizona, 68 missing cases remain unsolved according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

One of those is the case of James Hendrickson, who disappeared at 12 years old in 1991.  His sister Tammy Tacho recalled the first few months after he went missing.

"We would wake up and say it's a nightmare, Jimmy's going to be home," she said, struggling through tears, "And he's not."

She says every missing child case since has drudged up those dreams, especially Isabel Celis.  She says her best advice as someone who's been there is to keep speaking out to the public, something Isa's parents Sergio and Rebecca have only done three times in the month she's been missing.  Tacho says she can understand their hesitation.

"You're embarrassed number one that your child's missing, number two that you have to reach out, it's not that easy to say hey I need your help to look for my child," she said, "and that's how they're probably feeling too.  You know they don't want to reach out but I'm telling you it's the best thing they can do right now."

Still Tacho and local law enforcement hope they can one day bring the missing children home and if not, bring some sense of closure to family members.

"My heart goes out to that family," said Tacho, "And I know that one day she'll be home just like I know one day we're going to have information our Jimmy's going to be home."

To see details on the Celis case, click here.

To review Jimmy's case, click here.

Anyone who has any tips is urged to call them in anonymously to 88-CRIME.