OAKLAND -- As police continued a search for a missing toddler on Friday by blanketing neighborhoods with fliers and searching an Oakland waterfront park by helicopter, officials announced that child endangerment charges would not be filed against the girl's father.
The girl's father, John Anthony Webb, 49, had been arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after 21-month-old Daphne Viola Webb, went missing on Wednesday.
On Friday, however, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said her office had declined to file charges against Webb. ¿It was not known when he would be released from custody.
Police said Friday they did not plan to continue with marine and ground units searching at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park near the Oakland International Airport, but would use helicopter patrols in the area.
In addition, they planned to continue combing the area around the 1400 block of 79th Avenue where Webb said his daughter was taken from his SUV while he was in a store.
Officer Johnna Watson said police would also continue to hand out fliers in the area of the store, near the family's home on Greenridge Drive in the Oak Knoll neighborhood and said officers on dirt bikes would search again on trails and parks near the home. That activity will continue through the weekend.
Police so far are concentrating their searches on areas in Oakland that Webb said he and his daughter frequented.
But Watson added that if "the investigation takes us out of Oakland, we certainly will go there."
Watson would not say if police have found anyone who can definitively tell them when they last saw the child.
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.
Webb told police that just after 11 a.m. on Wednesday he left the child and his mother in the car and went into Gazzali's Supermarket at 79th Avenue and International Boulevard. He purchased an energy drink and was in and out of the corner store quickly, according to a store clerk.
Webb told police he returned to his SUV and found his mother alone and Daphne missing from the back seat.
Police were evaluating a report from a resident several blocks away from the market that a girl with similar clothing was seen with an unidentified black or Hispanic woman between 30 and 40 years old who had long, straight black hair and was wearing a light-colored shirt and jeans.
Webb has not been named by police as a suspect in the girl's disappearance. However, police had arrested him on the felony child endangerment charge after he told investigators that he had left the toddler in his car with his elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, immediately
Police immediately interviewed Webb, his mother, Daphne's mother -- whose identity was not released -- and other relatives, said Watson. What the family members said and the state of the relationship between Daphne's mother and father was not known Thursday morning.
Watson said the child's mother is "not a person of interest" in the case. She said Webb, Daphne's mother and other relatives have remained cooperative with police in the investigation.
On Thursday afternoon, police and the search focused on the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, near Oakland International Airport. Members of the Alameda County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team and at least two search dogs were on the scene, with boats from the sheriff's office, the U.S. Coast Guard and Oakland police scanning the water close to the shore.
Police used sonar to scan the water, then checked any notable readings with an underwater camera. Visibility in the murky water was down to only about two feet, officials said.
It was the second time in two days that police had searched the site. Police said Webb told them he spent a lot of time with his daughter at the park.
Investigators were also seeking witnesses who could verify seeing the girl with her father in the last 30 days.
Authorities handed out about 200 fliers with Daphne's picture and description Thursday in the neighborhood where she went missing. They planned to hand out more on Friday.
Public records show that Webb, who lived in Sacramento for several years, was arrested in 2001 on a felony charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence charge. He was later sentenced to two months in a sheriff's work project.
In 2002, he was arrested on misdemeanor charges of spousal battery and criminal threats. Those charges were dismissed the following year.
Webb has no criminal record in Alameda County.
Daphne's uncle, Josh Hayles of Vallejo, said he was contacted by police about his niece's disappearance on Wednesday then began seeing her face all over the Internet.
Hayles said Daphne's 30-year-old mother is his sister and called his niece a bubbly baby.
"She's a people person, she likes people," Hayles said. "Every time I see her she's a different person."
He said his family has been praying a lot since Daphne vanished and are working with police however they can.
"We've been letting them do their job," said Hayles. Webb and his sister had been together for years and that their relationship appeared amicable, he added, saying, "He's always been a cool person. Took care of his mother."
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are now offering up to $10,000 in reward money for information leading to finding the child. Anyone with information about the case or who has seen Daphne is asked to contact the Oakland Police Department Missing Persons Unit at 510-238-3352.
Staff writers Brittny Mejia, Matthias Gafni and Katie Nelson contributed to this report.