Police expand search for missing toddler into Oakland Hills

July 11, 2013 6:08:03 PM PDT
The father of a missing toddler seems to be losing sympathy from Oakland police. On Wednesday night they arrested and charged the 49-year-old with felony child endangerment. The father told police somebody took his 21-month-old daughter from his car while he was in a store late Wednesday morning.

Oakland police say the search for 2-year-old Daphne Webb has expanded into the Oakland Hills. Her father, John Webb, remains in jail on $100,000 bail. Sources close to the investigation tell me police are trying to get child protective services to release a previous case on this family that could keep him in jail.

The AMBER Alert for the missing girl is still in effect, but the search for the toddler is beginning to look more like a recovery. A police boat used submersible video cameras to comb the Oakland Estuary along the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline. Wednesday afternoon.

"That's an area where the father and child used to frequent," OPD Officer Johnna Watson said. "So we want to be very thorough and search that area."

The girl's father told police his daughter was abducted at about 11 a.m. from his black Ford Expedition while he was in a store on International Boulevard. He said his mother, who is suffering from severe dementia, had her purse stolen too. She has been unable to help the investigation.

Police who searched the father's Oakland apartment have been unable to find anyone who saw the 49-year-old father with his daughter before the abduction or in the past few weeks. They arrested Webb on felony child endangerment charges.

"He left a 21-month-old child, his little girl Daphne Webb, in the car with his mother," Officer Watson said. "His mother is 87-years-old and suffers from dementia."

The store owner says Webb came in by himself and bought two energy drinks.

"For five minutes he was in the store," said A.J. Abdo, owner of Gazzali's. "He bought an energy drink and left. He was talking on the phone." When asked if he was talking on the phone the whole time, Abdo answered, "The whole time, yeah."

Webb's daughter, who does not want to be identified, told me Thursday that she was talking on the phone with her father while he was in the store. She says that when he walked out he seemed startled and told her Daphne was gone.

Something interesting to note -- Webb's older daughter says he called her up after being estranged for a year. They were supposed to meet Wednesday and he realized Daphne was gone while he was talking to his daughter about their meeting.

Daphne is described as black, with short, curly black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing orange two-piece pajamas with pink hearts and pink socks.

Anyone with information on the girl's whereabouts is asked to call the Oakland Police Department Missing Persons Unit: (510) 238-3352 or 911.


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