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Community honors Isabel Celis at a vigil in Tucson

Posted at 10:26 PM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-06 01:34:26-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) Heartbroken and in disbelief -- those were some of the feelings of Tucsonans when they learned the fate of the smiling six-year-old girl they had searched for for years.

More than 100 people gathered for a vigil in downtown Tucson Tuesday night to celebrate the life of Isabel Celis. Isabel's father reported her missing from the family's Tucson home in 2012. Last week Tucson Police confirmed Isabel's remains were found in Pima County last month

The vigil Wednesday night was an effort to honor and remember Isabel and support the Celis family. A Facebook event was first created by Tucson photographer and student Travis Ramirez, who says he wanted a way to honor the young girl.

Hundreds expressed interest in the event, and others helped Ramirez plan including Tammy Acuna.

"We were not graced to know her personally, but as a community she became every body's child," Acuna said. "Everybody loved her. She just stole every body's heart in the community." 

Acuna was among one of the hundreds of people who took part in the original search to bring Isa home. Acuna says her daughter was abducted by her daughter's boyfriend for seven days, so she knows what it feels like to have a missing child. Acuna was compelled to help the Celis family.

"It's a big town with a small town mentality and everybody came out, looked out for each other," Acuna said. "Fought, searched, looking for this little girl. And we just now need to be there to support the family."

There were purple balloons and ribbons with purple jewels on them because purple was Isabel's favorite color. 

Aurora Rosales was among those at the vigil. She never met Isabel but she has 18 grandchildren of her own and has worked for years in Tucson schools. Rosales has had a purple ribbon with pictures of Isabel hanging on her rear view mirror since the young girl went missing. 

"It really meant a lot to me, for a child to be gone like that," Rosales said. "It's not right you know. It's not right at all. It really touched my heart."

The Celis family was not at the vigil, but they did release a statement last week thanking the community for their continued support and asking for privacy as they mourn. 

There was a guest book at the vigil and people were encouraged to write messages of support that will be given to the Celis family.