OAKLAND -- The mother of a 21-month-old girl reported missing a week ago struggled to contain her emotions Wednesday evening as family, friends and community members gathered in East Oakland to pray for the child's safe return.
"We called her 'mommy' because she was the one in charge," Kiana Davis-Webb, 31, said of her daughter, Daphne Viola Webb. Davis-Webb broke down in tears several times throughout the vigil as she stood with supporters at the corner of 79th Avenue and International Boulevard. Daphne's father, John Webb, 49, told police that he left the girl in his car with his elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, while he made a quick purchase at a convenience store; when he returned, he said, the girl was gone.
"There's no book written on how to deal with this," Davis-Webb said. "There's no manual written on how to deal with this.
"You have no idea how heartbreaking this is."
In the days after Daphne's disappearance, police have searched various locations around the city. No additional searches have been announced for this week.
From the start, police have worked to verify John Webb's account of events leading up to the girl's disappearance. The day she went missing, investigators released his picture and a photo of the toddler and asked anyone who had seen them together in the last month to contact police.
John Webb did not speak during the vigil, but afterward, he said, "I just want the baby home. Everybody wants her home."
Police declined to say Wednesday if police have received tips about any sightings of the man and the child.
Oakland police continue to investigate the disappearance as a missing persons case and have only named one suspect: 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 bluejeans.
The vigil comes one day after the family, not including John Webb, held a short news conference again asking anyone who had seen the child in the past three weeks to step forward. Kevin Davis, Daphne's grandfather, said Tuesday that no one had seen the child since June 27.
At the vigil Wednesday, Davis said: "She couldn't even talk, but she was already singing. Even though she was only 21 months old, she had a personality; she had a life."
After Daphne's mother sang a song in tribute to her daughter, Davis added: "We are looking forward to the day when my daughter, myself and my granddaughter can sing a three-part harmony."
One day after the girl went missing, John Webb was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment and spent one day in jail. He was released last Friday when prosecutors declined to file charges and sobbed in front of Santa Rita Jail after his release; police have said that neither he nor Kiana Davis-Webb are suspects in the disappearance. 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.
Supporters have set up a website, www.findbabydaphne.com, for updates on the case.
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.