Coast Guard searches for missing Tracy girl

April 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The U.S. Coast guard steps in to search for 8-year-old Sandra Cantu who vanished one week ago. Police released a new photograph of a birthmark on her right cheek, hoping it will generate new leads. SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

Police kept busy on Friday night following up on many of the 800 tips they've received so far from the public.

Police and the FBI searched a neighbor's home Friday, questioned a man, and they set up a checkpoint at the entrance of the mobile home park. They say they are doing this because Sandra disappeared a week ago. As for the search effort, the police said there are some leads.

The police activity at the Orchard Estates Trailer Park looked like progress. FBI with gloves and booties pulled up to 43 West Clover Road and started hauling stuff out.

They even took the man inside down to police headquarters for questioning. Still, police say they haven't found Sandra.

"We served another search warrant today at the mobile home park and we towed another vehicle. We had another person that came to the police department voluntarily to answer more questions," said Lt. Jeremy Watney from Tracy Police.

Officers also spent another day at the city's landfills going through people's garbage. As disgusting as it is, some Tracy firefighters even volunteered to help. They were told to look for a variety of possible clues.

"Anything that has any blood on it, small children's articles, some kinds of toys what little girls may have on her," said volunteer Tony Fernandez.

As police focused on Tracy, volunteers are running out of places to work. They have fliers of Sandra posted on every pole and window of the city.

"Just about everyone I've talked to in town here has seen her face somewhere, so the concern is that she might be out of the area, hopefully alive," said volunteer Craig Saalwaechter.

Police and the FBI seemed to still be focused inside Sandra's home. They took a couple of items from Sandra's home and towed a several cars. They don't want to say much about it, and they won't say who they are questioning.

As for other agencies, they're doing what they can to help. Friday night, the U.S. Coast Guard took a group of FBI agents and Tracy Police officers up in a C-130. The aircraft is equipped with thermal imaging and infrared cameras.

"They're very sensitive, we use those aircraft in search and rescue on the water all the time, for law enforcement. So at a high altitude, at fast speeds that these planes fly they are still able to pick up small objects on the water pretty easily," said Petty Officer Kevin Neff, from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sandra's family, meanwhile, continue to plead for her safe return. The girl's aunt, Angie Chavez, appeared on national television.

"We miss her and we love her," said Chavez.

A big volunteer effort is expected on Saturday. People who want to help in the search are being asked to check in at the fire station at 7700 Linne Road.

If you have any information please call 1-209-831-6TIP.

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