As the search for a missing 3-year-old girl stretches into the fourth day and draws national attention, San Antonio police and the FBI are continuing their efforts to locate her.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Wednesday that officers “have not had much success” in finding Lina Sardar Khil, who disappeared on Monday evening at the Villas Del Cabo complex in the 9400 block of Fredericksburg Road.
She was last seen wearing a black jacket, red dress and black shoes.
Police will continue to search areas around the apartment complex on Thursday in hopes of finding Lina. They’ve also requested the help of an FBI rapid response team, which could provide officers with additional resources.
Below is the latest information available about the search for Lina as of Thursday, Dec. 23.
Police are treating the disappearance as a missing person case, not an abduction
Though San Antonio police are asking the FBI to deploy its child abduction rapid response team to aid officers in their search, McManus clarified that investigators do not have any reason to believe Lina was abducted.
“If it were an abduction, we could be looking for an individual or have evidence of a child being abducted,” McManus said on Wednesday. “Right now, we don’t have any of that. That may change, but right now, it’s still a missing person.”
Another reason they are treating it as a missing person case is that there is not currently a suspect, he said.
SAPD has used canines in the search, which is still contained to the San Antonio area.
But the FBI’s rapid response team has resources that the department doesn’t, McManus said.
“If we have video that’s not real clear, they can work on their end to clarify any video footage,” he said. “They have resources, they have boots on the ground here that are helping us canvas the area.”
Officers will continue searching areas surrounding the apartment complex on Thursday, but as time passes, so do their chances of finding Lina.
“The longer the time lapses, the less hopeful we become,” McManus said.
Authorities sent a second AMBER Alert for Lina on Wednesday evening. The first AMBER Alert was sent to people’s phones late Monday night.
Muslim community puts up $75,000 reward for information on Lina
A cash reward put up by the Islamic Society of San Antonio on Wednesday quickly grew with more donations from the Muslim community.
What started as a $10,000 reward for information leading authorities to Lina turned into a $75,000 reward by Wednesday night over the span of a few hours.
McManus also recognized Muslim community leaders for their help bridging cultural gaps during the search for Lina.
“They’ve all been instrumental in helping us carry out our duties as they’re related to this search,” he said.
Lina and her family are refugees from Afghanistan
Margaret Constantino with the Center for Refugee Services told KSAT Tuesday that the child’s family is among the Afghanistan refugees in San Antonio.
At least 1,300 people from Afghanistan have come through the Center for Refugee Services for resettling here.
While she knows very little about the family, including when exactly they came to the United States, Constantino says any missing child is everyone’s missing child.
“And like any big family with lots and lots of little kids, all of these children are precious to us,” she said. “Knowing this community, they’re very close-knit. So people will be out there beating the bushes, looking for this child.”
Lina disappeared at a playground
Lina was at a playground at the apartment complex with her mother and other children between 5-6 p.m. Monday when her mother left and returned to find her daughter missing, the chief said in a news conference Tuesday morning.
It is unclear exactly how long the mother was away, but McManus said she returned a “short time later.” McManus said the girl wasn’t left alone and there were other kids at the playground, which is open within the complex.
The family reported the child missing around 7:15 p.m., and an AMBER Alert was issued.
Officers searched the area by foot and air Monday but did not locate her. SAPD continued their search Tuesday morning and asked the FBI for assistance.
Officers went door by door to each apartment — there are under 300 units in the complex — to search for Lina.
Officers also searched for video, checked cars and dumpsters, and recorded license plates due to the “suspicious nature of the disappearance,” he added.
“We have every available asset in the police department working on the case right now,” he said, adding that “we are sparing no assets or resources.”
So far, the mother and residents have been cooperative, McManus said.
“Nobody comes and goes without talking to a police officer,” he said.
Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to call SAPD’s missing person unit at 210-207-7660.
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