Authorities in Texas have cancelled an AMBER Alert for a missing 3-year-old girl three weeks after she vanished from a playground at her San Antonio apartment complex.
KSAT reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety discontinued the AMBER Alert for Lina Khil, who vanished without a trace on December 20. Officials reportedly said the AMBER Alert for cancelled for “procedural reasons,” without elaborating.
AMBER Alerts are typically issued for suspected abductions when police have a suspect or a vehicle description, which was not the case in Lina’s disappearance. Police have said from the start that the search was being treated as a missing person investigation, and have not named any suspects in Lina’s disappearance.
“While the Amber Alert for Lina has been suspended, it’s critical to communicate that Lina is still a missing person and once again, we continue to follow-up on leads and actively search for Lina,” the San Antonio Police Department said in a statement obtained by KSAT.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Lina Khil’s last known location was a playground at the 300-unit apartment complex where she lives with her family. Lina’s mother reportedly separated from her daughter briefly, and returned to the playground to find her missing. Local reports had previously indicated that Lina may have wandered off from the playground slightly after 5 p.m. on that Monday. Lina’s family, who migrated to the United States from Afghanistan in 2019, reported her missing later the same evening. The family reportedly speaks a rare Afghan dialect and have been communicating with investigators and the media through an interpreter.
The SAPD has been working with resources from the FBI, which provided a dive team to search a creek last week about two miles from Lina’s home. The SAPD chief said at the time that the search was the result of a lead which he indicated was not particularly strong. The search ended without any “conclusive findings.” according to an SAPD statement obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.
The newspaper interviewed multiple retired law enforcement agents and community leaders who said they believed there is a good chance the 3-year-old girl was abducted.
Eric Herr, Vice President of Search and Support San Antonio, said he worries about Lina’s chances of survival if she had been out in the cold, and speculated that she may have been abducted.
From the very beginning, to me, this sounded like an abduction,” Herr told the San Antonio Express-News. “A 3-year-old child is going to walk away at 5 o’clock? I mean, everyone is getting home from work. It’s busy traffic hours there. There’s no way she’s walking around and no one sees her.”
Abel Peña, a retired FBI agent and the CEO of Project Absentis, also expressed skepticism that Lina walked away from a playground unnoticed.
“It is possible she walked out of the gate? Honestly, I don’t see that happening,” Peña told the newspaper. “Most kids stay nearby, unless she was drawn out.”
Peña and additional retired FBI agents who were not directly quotes reportedly said they believed the FBI may be working to create a profile of a possible suspect, and are likely reviewing any witness interviews for possible discrepancies. As previously reported, San Antonio Police said early in the investigation that other adults and children were at the playground at the time of Lina’s disappearance, and had interviewed some of those witnesses, while asking for other potential witnesses to come forward. Additionally, police reportedly went door-to-door at the apartment complex, speaking to residents about the little girl’s disappearance.
“We will continue to diligently continue combing through leads in hopes of locating Lina and reuniting her with her family,” a SAPD spokesperson told ABC News.