Massive search planned for missing Oakland toddler


Dozens of law enforcement officials will fan out through a specific — but so far unknown — area of Oakland early Saturday to deepen the search for a little girl missing for more than six weeks.

Whatever happened to 22-month-old Daphne Webb remains a mystery after she disappeared on July 10. Oakland police announced Friday officers and FBI agents will take part in the massive search.

Police spokesperson Johnna Watson said the area where the search will be carried out would not be revealed until Saturday so the investigation would not be comprised.

Watson would only say the search would take place in an open area, and did not say what prompted plans for the search:

“It will be a land search. We will have over 50 professional search individuals. We’ll also be bringing in special equipment.”

Meanwhile, the FBI has announced they are providing an additional $10,000 as a reward in the case, doubling the total reward to $20,000.

Daphne’s father John Webb told police he had left his daughter in his SUV with his 87-year-old mother — who suffers from dementia — while he went into an East Oakland liquor store to buy an energy drink.

The 49-year-old Webb says when he came out of the store, his daughter was gone. Webb later told reporters:

“The car seat was pulled over the back door was open. My mom’s purse was gone.”

After the little girl was reported missing, officers went  door-to-door through the neighborhood. A helicopter was also called in to try to look for her.

Contra Costa County search and rescue teams, BART police and officers from the Oakland Housing Authority also joined in the fruitless investigation.

In later searches, police with cadaver dogs scoured a nearby waterfront park, while investigators also conducted a search of Webb’s  home.

The day after his daughter disappeared, Webb was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment. He was released from jail the next day when prosecutors declined to file charges.

Webb has never been described by police as a suspect in the case, but he is now being termed a “person of interest.” Webb had custody of the little girl because the Daphne’s mother is undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment.

Daphne is described as black, about 2 feet tall and weighing about 30 pounds. She has short, black, curly hair, a medium complexion, brown eyes and is missing part of her left ear.

She was last seen wearing an orange, two-piece pajama set with pink hearts and pink socks.

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