The mother of missing Tucson girl Isabel Celis is defending her husband as a "great father," refuting suspicions raised by the announcement earlier this week that he would be barred from seeing his two sons, Isabel's brothers.
"My husband's a great father," Rebecca Celis told told ABC affiliate KGUN as she led hundreds of supporters on a candlelight walk Friday evening for her missing 6-year-old daughter.
"My husband loves those boys, loves my daughter," she said of her husband, Sergio Celis. "He's a great husband, a great father to the boys and to Isabel. At the end of the day when Isabel comes home, everybody's questions will be answered."
Rebecca Celis said her husband wanted to attend Friday's vigil, but was unable to since one of her sons wanted to be there. Sergio Celis was told last week by authorities he cannot have contact with the girl's two older brothers, who are now in the custody of their mother.
"It's tough because we're already under a lot of stress because we don't have Isabel here, so to have more thrown on us, but we're strong and we'll be okay, we'll survive it. We just want her back," she said.
Child Protective Services officials had visited the family's home in December, but officials declined to discuss the circumstances.
"A voluntary agreement was reached between Child Protective Services and the parents to restrict access or, voluntarily, for Sergio to give some space and distance away from the two older children," Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said.
Police said the development does not mean that investigators are turning their focus on Sergio Celis in the disappearance of his daughter.
Sergio Celis' sister, Elena Celis, also spoke in defense of her brother at Friday's vigil.
"We ask that you maintain compassion and understanding for the entire Celis family," Elena told KGUN.
Isabel Celis was reported missing by her father around 8 a.m. April 21 after her mother left for work and her father went to wake her up.
The girl was not in her room, and a bedroom window was opened with the screen removed, police said.
In a 911 call released last week, Sergio Celis sounds calm as he describes finding that the 6-year-old has disappeared from her bed and tells police he thinks she was abducted.
"I want to report a missing person," Sergio Celis says on one of the two recordings, made the morning of April 21. "My little girl, who is 6 years old – I believe she was abducted from our house."
The second recording is of a call featuring Isabel's 14-year-old brother, Sergio, who later gives the phone to his mother after she returns home from work. Both the boy and his mother are frantic, though the woman seems to control herself when she is asked for specific information about the girl's height and weight, what she was wearing, and her hair and eyes.
Police have searched homes in the family's neighborhood, dug through a nearby landfill and searched waterways and drainage systems in Tucson. More than 1,000 tips have poured in regarding the 6-year-old's disappearance.