(03-29) 21:40 PDT Tracy -- The FBI, police and hundreds of volunteers are searching for an 8-year-old Tracy girl who vanished from the mobile home park where she resides with her family.
Sandra Cantu failed to return to her home at the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park on West Clover Road on Friday.
"She went to her friend's house to color and play," said Sandra's aunt, Angie Chavez, 41. The girl came home briefly Friday afternoon, she said, "then left to see another friend and just never came home."
It appears the second friend wasn't home, Chavez said, but it's not clear if Sandra ever even made it there.
"She didn't come home for dinner. ... They went looking for her and couldn't find her," Chavez said. "It got to be 8 o'clock, and they thought: Something is not right here."
The family summoned Tracy police, and by Sunday they were joined by law enforcement from surrounding communities and the FBI.
Hundreds of search-and-rescue personnel combed the rural area, along with crowds of volunteers eager to help.
"It's just astounding the number of people that have come out from the community wanting to help. We've had over 220 volunteers coming out wanting to help, and that's not including the people from the search-and-rescue teams," Chavez said. "We've actually had complete strangers coming by the house and offering food and drinks."
One of those strangers was Lisa Encarnacion, who volunteered to serve as the family's spokeswoman to the media. She said she was motivated by the loss of her 16-year-old son, Adam, in a car wreck.
"I wanted to offer my assistance in any way we could facilitate Sandra's return," she said Sunday night. "They are holding up as best as can be expected."
There are few clues to explain Sandra's disappearance. The girl did not express any desire to run away, her aunt said, and is close to her mother, Maria Chavez, 41. She attends Jacobson Elementary School and shares a mobile home with her mother, three older siblings and grandparents in a mobile home park full of friendly children.
"Everybody knows everybody in this little mobile home park. All the kids play together," Angie Chavez said. Sandra is outgoing and friendly, she said. "Probably too friendly, to a fault."
Sandra's father has been estranged from the family but is in Tracy helping and has been interviewed by police, Angie Chavez said.
Sandra's grandfather recently installed surveillance cameras on his mobile home after the tires on his truck were slashed, Chavez said - a rare crime for the area that the family has speculated might be retaliation for him trapping cats that trespass on his property and taking them to the pound.
The surveillance cameras have been helpful in showing Sandra on the property at about 4 p.m. Friday. A second camera, which faces the entrance to the park, does not show the girl leaving that way, Chavez said - which would have been unusual.
"She never goes outside the park," she said. Both tapes have been given to investigators, she said.
Sandra is Latina, 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a pink Hello Kitty T-shirt and black leggings.
Police are asking anybody with information to call the Tracy Police Department at (209) 831-6847 or for urgent tips at (209) 831-4550. Tips can also be phoned in to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.
Tracy Crime Stoppers and the FBI have offered a $2,000 reward for information about Sandra's whereabouts, Chavez said.
E-mail Matthew B. Stannard at firstname.lastname@example.org