OAKLAND -- The father of a missing 2-year-old girl and the only person of interest in her disappearance last July was found dead in his home last Friday and family members say he killed himself.

John Webb, 50, was found by an adult daughter in his home on Greenridge Drive about 8 p.m. Friday, police said.

On July 10, Webb reported to police that his daughter, Daphne Viola Webb, who was 21 months old at the time, had gone missing just after 11 a.m. He told police that he left the girl with his 87-year-old mother, who has dementia, in his Ford SUV while he made a quick purchase at a convenience store at 79th Avenue and International Boulevard, then returned to find she was gone.

John Webb, second from right, father of Daphne Webb,  during a vigil for the child, July 17, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group
John Webb, second from right, father of Daphne Webb, during a vigil for the child, July 17, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group Archives)

Despite a massive search that focused on various locations around the East Bay, including the area around John Webb's Oakland home and the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, near Oakland International Airport, the girl has not been found.

From the start, investigators questioned John Webb's story. The day after the girl's disappearance, he was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment, but prosecutors declined to file charges, and he was released from jail.

He regularly declined to comment on the case in the months following the baby's disappearance. About a month after the girl went missing, other relatives publicly questioned John Webb's story, with the child's grandfather calling his claims "fishy."

Now, his death leaves the baby's family with even more unanswered questions.

"He was the last person who was with her so obviously he would know of her whereabouts," said the child's great-aunt, Roslyn Robinson. "At this point, we have closure on him but not on her."

Police have described only 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 blue jeans. At least two people said they saw the woman with a child matching the girl's description and also wearing pink socks. But that story never panned out.

"The story of someone snatching her out of the air is kind of far-fetched," Robinson said. Robinson said Webb's death was a suicide but said she did not have details of how Webb killed himself.

Police on Monday night said that the death is still classified as "unexplained." An autopsy Monday showed no signs of trauma to the body and police said there was no evidence of foul play. Police searched the Greenridge Drive house, where Webb lived with his elderly mother, on Monday, but did not disclose what they found.

It will be four to six weeks until toxicology reports come back from the Alameda County Coroner's office.

In the wake of his death, police have not released any new information about the disappearance of the child. Police continue to investigate her disappearance, said Oakland police Officer Johnna Watson.

Webb had custody of Daphne at the time of her disappearance because the child's mother, Kiana Davis-Webb, 32, was living in a rehabilitation home in Oakland. Police have never named her as a person of interest or suspect. She remains in the treatment program and in January delivered a healthy baby girl, Robinson said.

Webb is the father of that baby and the two remained married at the time of his death. Davis-Webb was not available for comment Monday.

"She is doing as well as she can be considering the turn of events. Now she has to deal with the loss of her husband and her missing child," said Robinson. "She wants to grieve in her own private way."

A reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of the child.

Family members and friends of Daphne Webb during a press conference at the Oakland Police Department on Seventh Street in downtown Oakland, Calif., on
Family members and friends of Daphne Webb during a press conference at the Oakland Police Department on Seventh Street in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

To donate, to the fund to continue searches, go to www.findbabydaphne.com. Anyone with information about the case can call the Oakland Police Department missing persons unit at 510-238-3641.

Contact Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.