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Daphne Viola Webb

OAKLAND -- The mother of a missing 21-month-old girl said she is devastated and confused about her missing baby, but she refused to speculate Friday about whether the child's father, who was released from jail after prosecutors declined to charge him with child endangerment, played a role in her disappearance.

"There are so many things that don't make sense," said Kiana Davis-Webb, 31, of Oakland. "We just don't know really what to think right now. I don't know if he was overwhelmed or what is going on. They are trying to paint a negative picture of him that makes him look like a criminal."

The child's father, John Anthony Webb, 49, told police late Wednesday morning that the girl, Daphne Viola Webb, disappeared from his car when he left her and his 87-year-old mother -- who suffers from dementia -- together in the vehicle while he went inside a convenience store on International Boulevard.

Webb was released from Santa Rita Jail Friday night, where he had been held on child endangerment charges.

Outside the jail, Webb cried as he told reporters what he saw when he realized his daughter had been abducted.

He said the car seat was pulled over and the back door of his car open. His mother's purse, he said, was also missing.

"My daughter is missing, and I have to live with that," he said as he wiped away tears. "I may be out of jail, but I am still not free ... (that's) how I feel."

Police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said Davis-Webb is not a person of interest in this case and the father has not been named by police as a suspect. The only suspect is an unidentified woman who witnesses described as walking away from the SUV with a child matching Daphne's description, Watson said.

Davis-Webb said she has spoken only once to her husband since the girl went missing, and until Friday she has been largely silent about the case that has drawn national attention.

"I've been very private about my personal feelings about what I think happened, and I'd like to keep it that way," she said Friday.

Davis-Webb, who is living in a residential substance abuse treatment facility, has had trouble with the law before, but she said Friday that she was working to improve her life.

In February, Davis-Webb was convicted of child endangerment and possession of a controlled substance, according to court records from Alameda County Superior Court. A passer-by called Oakland police after seeing Davis-Webb passed out in a car with Daphne in the back seat, records show.

Davis-Webb was found to have taken a prescription painkiller without a prescription and drank an unknown amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel. She accepted a plea deal and was barred from seeing Daphne, but a court order was later modified to allow her limited contact.

"Since February, I've made a great effort to turn my life around," she said Friday. "I don't even look the way I did. I didn't make all the best choices, but I'm trying to repair what I did wrong."

Davis-Webb made an emotional plea for her daughter on Friday.

"If somebody has her or saw anything, regardless of how small or insignificant they feel it is, even if they feel it's going to get someone in trouble, if they could please come forward. She has a family that is waiting for her to come back," said Davis-Webb, who married John Webb about five years ago after meeting him in church.

She described her daughter as active and lovable, a good baby who would fall asleep on anyone's shoulder and never shied away from strangers and likely wouldn't cry or scream if someone did nab her.

As police continued the search for Daphne on Friday by blanketing neighborhoods with fliers and searching an Oakland waterfront park with a helicopter, officials announced that child endangerment charges against John Webb would not be filed, but the police investigation remains open. Webb was released from Santa Rita Jail, where he had been held since Thursday.

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.

Police have spent countless hours combing water and land, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park near the Oakland airport and trails near the man's house on Greenridge Drive, looking for clues.

The searches will continue through the weekend. Watson said police are concentrating their searches on areas in Oakland that Webb said he and his daughter frequented.

Davis-Webb said she is planning a candlelight vigil for her daughter.

Daphne is black, about 2 feet tall and weighs 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.

Witnesses told police that they saw an unidentified woman a few blocks away from the SUV carrying a child wearing clothing matching Daphne's around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday. That woman was described as 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.

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 Matthias Gafni, Natalie Neysa Alund, Harry Harris, Brittny Mejia and Katie Nelson contributed to this report.