SAN ANTONIO – As the search for a missing 3-year-old girl stretches into the fifth 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 Friday in hopes of finding Lina. They’ve also requested the help of an FBI rapid response team, which could provide officers with additional resources.
Meanwhile, the community organized a prayer vigil for Lina on Friday at St. Francis Episcopal Church, located at 4242 Bluemel Road.
San Antonio police released the following video of Lina on Friday evening:
Below is the latest information available about the search for Lina as of Friday, Dec. 24.
SAPD asks for public’s help, tips to aid in search for Lina Khil
San Antonio police are asking for specific people to reach out to its Missing Persons Unit to help aid in the search for Lina.
Any residents who were at the Villas del Cabo Apartment Complex, which is located at 9400 Fredericksburg Road, between 4:30 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. on Monday, are urged to contact SAPD at 210-207-7660 with “actionable tips.”
Also, anyone who spoke with Lina or her family at any time on Monday is urged to contact police as soon as possible.
“No detail is too small as we continue to search for Lina,” SAPD said in a release.
Although the police presence at the family’s home may look different as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day approach, the department said their resources to aid in the search for Lina are being redirected “to be as proactive as possible.”
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.”
FBI agents have been seen knocking on residents doors, as well as checking in with nearby businesses.
“FBI showed up and they searched my apartment. They looked under the bed, under the couch outside They had this questionnaire. Going through questions, ‘Would you be willing to give a DNA sample if needed?’” said an apartment resident who did not want to be identified.
Alex de Hoyos, manager of the Belden’s Automotive across the street from the apartment complex, said he gave authorities the store’s security video on Monday.
The store’s cameras can see the entire entrance of the Villa Del Cabo complex, de Hoyos said, unfortunately, his cameras can’t see the side entrance of the apartments.
“Guy in plain clothes comes inside and flaps a badge and tells us what’s going on, and we were like, ‘Oh yeah, come on down. We’ll give you anything you need,” de Hoyos said.
Officers continued 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, Crime Stoppers offer $150K reward combined for information on Lina
A cash reward was put up by the Islamic Center of San Antonio on Wednesday. It initially started out as a $10,000 reward before multiple donations were received, totaling $100,000 on Thursday.
Crime Stoppers also announced late Thursday it is also offering a reward of $50,000. Both rewards combined total $150,000, if the tip helps lead authorities to the young girl, and an arrest.
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.