OAKLAND -- With police on Friday hinting that there is new information in the case of missing Oakland toddler Daphne Viola Webb, a team of 50 people will search for her at open space in Oakland on Saturday.
"This case continues as we receive new information," Oakland Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said. "Time is of the essence. We have a 22-month-old little girl who has been missing since July 10."
Also Friday, the FBI added $10,000 to the reward fund for information leading to directly to information about the whereabouts of the missing girl, boosting the total reward to $20,000.
"We are going to solve this case, it's just a matter of time," Watson said, noting that Daphne's father, John Webb, 49, "continues to be a person of interest."
Police have searched parks and trails behind her father's Greenridge Drive home, the waterfront along Martin Luther King Jr. shoreline and East Oakland neighborhoods where Daphne was reported missing.
The exact location of Saturday's search won't be announced until early Saturday in order to not jeopardize the investigation, Watson said. Searchers will be using cadaver dogs and specialized equipment to help them look for the toddler.
Police have not said what they are looking for or what led investigators to the area they plan to search.
Webb claims that shortly after 11 a.m. on July 10 his daughter was snatched from the backseat of his black Ford SUV after he went into a corner market to buy an energy drink and use his cellphone. He said he left her in the SUV with his 87-year-old mother, who has dementia. He told police that when he returned, the baby was gone from the car seat, which was askew, and his mother's purse was missing.
Police immediately brought in search dogs and teams of officers to canvass the neighborhood near the store at 79th Avenue and International Boulevard. Investigators also immediately made it clear that they questioned Webb's story. They asked anyone who had seen Webb or the girl (or both) together in the previous 30 days to come forward. Police have never said whether they received any tips on sightings.
Webb was arrested July 11 on suspicion of felony child endangerment because the child was not in proper care in the SUV, but prosecutors declined to file charges and he was released from jail the following day.
Webb had custody of Daphne because the child's mother, Kiana Davis-Webb, 31, is living in a drug rehabilitation home in Oakland. Police have not named her as a person of interest or a suspect.
Although the family last week expressed concern that the two police investigations have stalled, Watson on Friday said, "the investigation has not for one moment, not for one second, stopped."
Police have dual investigations: a missing persons case and a homicide case.
Relatives have held candlelight vigils, a "love walk" and several news conferences in hopes of keeping the word of Daphne's disappearance in the news. This week, police posted a sign with the girl's photo on the large electronic billboard outside the O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena.
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.
Relatives have set up a website, www.findbabydaphne.com.
Anyone with information about the case or who has seen Daphne is asked to call the Oakland Police Department missing persons unit at 510-238-3641.