An AMBER Alert remains active for the young girl who disappeared from a San Antonio playground on Dec. 20.
SAN ANTONIO — Six days after 3-year-old Lina Sardar Khil disappeared from the playground of her family’s northwest-San Antonio apartment complex, authorities continue to search for any sign of the young girl.
Police officials emphasized they don’t believe Lina was taken by someone.
“We are not treating this as an abduction right now,” San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Wednesday afternoon. “We are treating it as a missing person. The longer the time lapses, the less hopeful we become.”
On Friday, McManus provided more context, saying there’s no potential abduction suspect authorities are currently searching for but otherwise using the resources which would be used in an abduction investigation.
Lina was last seen Monday, Dec. 20, around 5 p.m. on a playground inside apartment grounds along the 9400 block of Fredericksburg Road. Later that night, an AMBER Alert was issued as the search for her intensified.
The FBI has lent the services of its Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team in the search for Lina, which McManus said would broaden beyond areas where authorities looked in the early hours after her disappearance. A spokesperson with the FBI’s San Antonio office also said there are digital billboards being utilized across central Texas to assist.
“We will continue making as much contact with the community as we can, trying to find someone who knows anything about Lina,” the chief said, while also thanking community representatives for helping SAPD bridge the language barrier with Lina’s family, who arrived in the U.S. as refugees from Afghanistan in 2019.
Chopper 5 was over a northwest-side greenbelt where authorities searched for Lina. They also used canines to assist. You can watch that stream here.
An interfaith prayer service was held at a northwest-side church Friday morning, where Lina’s father thanked the community for their efforts while SAPD and FBI officials provided the latest on their efforts.
Later, on Friday evening, SAPD released new video of Lina from before her disappearance. The total reward for information leading authorities to her discovery stands at $150,000.
Eagles Flight SA is coordination aid and gathering donations for extended family members who have put their lives on pause to help in the search, particularly wipes, diapers, food and money. If you’d like to help, click here.
‘They know what this is like’
The Islamic Center of San Antonio told KENS 5 it was offering an $100,000 reward to anyone that can provide information leading authorities to the missing child, as of late Thursday night. You are asked to contact SAPD at (210) 207-7660. Crime Stoppers of San Antonio is offering an additional $50,000 reward of its own.
Michael Martin, with the center, said Lina’s story has galvanized people.
On Wednesday morning the reward was at $10,000. In just a few hours’ time, it had jumped to $75,000 before growing even more later.
“If this gets people to stand up, sit up, and take notice and ask or say, ‘I remember this,’ then we need to do it,” Martin said.
Martin said they’re all hurting for Lina and her family.
“This family is suffering. and we have a lot of brothers here that have a lot of small children and they know what this is like,” he said. “They can feel that.”
San Antonio English teacher Haroon Monis reflected on the journey he and his family endured, fleeing war-torn Afghanistan in the 1980s when Russia was in conflict with the Mujahideen and other factions.
Monis and his parents resettled in the Alamo City with the intention to live a more prosperous life; one free of fear and political persecution. Monis documented his life in Afghanistan and acclimation to life in the U.S through a book he authored in 2016.
He’s holding onto faith during this time of uncertainty as the community unites to find Lina.
“I couldn’t even imagine what the family’s going through and the fact that there’s a language barrier, is going to exacerbate that situation so I feel for them, I pray that she’s found safe,” Monis said. “It is the season of giving. I’m glad the Islamic center has stepped up and I hope other people do too. And if we all pitch together and band together hopefully, we will find her soon.”
There were other children and adults who were at the playground area at the time of the disappearance, investigators said. McManus said police had identified most of those people and were working to finish that process.
A search for leads
Police officials have asked that anyone who was at the Villas del Cabo Apartments between 4:30 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. on Monday call the department at (210) 207-7660 “with actionable tips.”
They are also asking to hear from anyone who “had any contact with Lina or her family” at any point on Monday, writing in the release that “no detail is too small.”
Numerous law enforcement personnel were seen at the apartment complex on Tuesday. McManus said nobody was going in or out of the area without clearing a checkpoint with officers.
As far as video footage, the chief said Wednesday that officers have not come across anything relevant to the search.
“We would put that out immediately if we did,” he said.
Chopper 5 captured aerial footage of the apartment this week where authorities were continuing their search:
SAPD also shared new photos of the missing girl:
He said the girl’s parents were cooperating, but there was initially a language barrier because the mother speaks an uncommon Arabic dialect. “Their state is what you might expect for parents whose child has been missing for some time,” McManus said.
KENS 5 also spoke to residents in the apartment complex who were woken up with a knock on their door by the FBI:
Through a translator named Khushal Dilsoz, the family told us they were questioned for several hours by authorities on Tuesday.
“The FBI and police are coming here like any moment and they’re asking us different questions,” the translator said on behalf of the father.
The father said that on Monday he believed his daughter may have gone with another Afghan family, but now believes she may have been abducted.
Lina was last seen wearing a black jacket, a red dress and black shoes. She has straight, shoulder-length hair, last seen in a ponytail.
Anyone with information is asked to call the San Antonio Police Department at (210) 207-7660.