Cold Case of 4-Year-Old Pilar Rodriguez Reopened by Florida Authorities

Pilar Rodriguez

Florida authorities are using cadaver dogs and ground penetration radar in a grim search they hope - or fear - could solve the 10-year-old disappearance of little Pilar Rodriguez.

The 4-year-old girl disappeared in 1999 during a two-week long visit to Punta Gorda with her babysitter Melissa Cooper. They went to the family home of Cooper's boyfriend, Keith Allen Wilson.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office began combing an eight acre property in Punta Gorda today that belongs to Wilson's grandmother.

Video: Fla. police continue to search for Pilar Rodriquez.
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The decade old cold case heated up with a tip, Sheriff Bill Cameron told ABCNews.com. He would not discuss or characterize the tip.

"This is active and ongoing but so far we have had no positive results," l Cameron said.

"I'm very hopeful but I wish I could say I was extremely optimistic," said Cameron. "Hopefully this ends up being a good lead."

With the help of anthropologists, ground penetration radar devices and cadaver dogs, Cameron said authorities are tackling a "tedious" job.

"We're not solely looking for a body, we're looking for anything related to this case," he said. "It could be her body but it could also be other evidence buried on the property."

He said the grandmother is not a subject of the investigation.

The missing girl's father, Marco Rodriguez, is not a suspect in the case but has been in contact with police, said Cameron.

The telephone number listed at the residence authorities have been searching has been disconnected, as has the one for Keith Wilson's home in Kentucky.

Authorities have not reached out to Wilson, said Cameron, but have been in touch with Cooper. Cameron declined to specify where Cooper is currently located.

According to local press reports, Cooper told reporters in 1999 that she believed her boyfriend was responsible for the girl's disappearance.

"When he gets angry, he gets angry, and he doesn't handle it in the best of ways and it got out of hand this time. It really got out of hand," Cooper told WPLG.

Police Asking Public for More Leads in Cold Case Disappearance of Pilar Rodriguez

Cameron said he hopes the renewed public interest in the case could prompt more leads.

"A long time has passed and along the nearly 11 years people who were involved in this crime could have talked to people," said Cameron. "And if that's the case, we want to know about it."

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