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Christopher Clements retrial: Still no verdict

Isabel Celis
Posted at 6:14 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 17:32:19-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The disappearance and death of 6-year-old Isabel Celis has hung over her family—and Tucson—for 12 years. Now, a second jury is in deliberations on Christopher Clements' retrial, after the initial trial ended in a mistrial in 2023.

The question of how someone stole her out the family home without alerting four family members and a collection of dogs has been a continuing mystery, and a chilling idea for families.

Christopher Clements is a registered sex offender who police questioned right after the kidnapping; however, he did not become a suspect until five years later when he offered to lead detectives to the young girl's remains in return for getting a burglary charge dropped.

He said he simply knew the location but had nothing to do with the death.


That remote location put Clements under suspicion for two child murders. He ended up with a life sentence for kidnapping and killing 13-year-old Maribel Gonzales. Her remains were found near where Clements pointed out Isabel’s remains. A partial DNA match to Clements from Maribel and cellphone tracking that placed Clements phone in the area were part of the evidence in the older girl’s death.

Jurors in this latest trial were not allowed to hear of the conviction in the Maribel Gonzales case or Clements history as a sex offender. They were told of Clements collection photos of young girls provocative poses.

But there was no DNA to connect Clements to Isabel’s remains or the Celis house. And Clements lawyers questioned the validity of cell phone tracking that said the day after Isabel disappeared Clements phone was near where her body would be found five years later.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.