The Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation has joined the effort to locate a missing Tracy girl that Tracy Police believe is still alive.

The foundation is offering $5,000, bringing the total reward amount to $7,000, for information leading to the return of Sandra Cantu, 8, who has been missing from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park since Friday night.

Tracy Police Chief Janet Theissen said at a Monday afternoon press conference that she was very thankful for the foundation’s efforts.

“Information from the public is absolutely vital to solving complex cases such as this particular situation,” Theissen said. “The rewards the foundation provides have been instrumental in closing many, many cases, and it is our hope the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation’s involvement will help us develop information that will lead us to the safe return of Sandra Cantu.”

Scott Webb, the executive director of the foundation, said rewards are often the catalyst for increasing interest and generating investigative leads for cases like Sandra’s.

“Rewards not only offer hope to the family, who find themselves in this desperate situation, but they also provide a crucial element in the cases of missing persons, bringing home loved ones,” Webb said.

Federal, state and local law enforcement, along with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and hundreds of volunteers from throughout the area have searched north Tracy on foot and using all-terrain vehicles, horses and helicopters to find the Jacobsen Elementary School second-grader.

Tracy Police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said they have received more than 150 tips so far, with investigators believing that a handful of them are credible.

“We have no evidence to indicate she’s been harmed and is not alive,” Sheneman said. “So it is our belief that she’s alive and unharmed.”

Cadaver dogs picked up a scent Sunday morning along a river north of Tracy, Sheneman said. Divers searched the water while others searched along the water line. He said there was no sign anyone had been there and nothing was found.

Police continue to question residents and search vehicles at Orchard Estates where Sandra was last seen at 4 p.m. Friday. They have expanded the search area beyond the girl’s neighborhood and are concentrating on the area between 11th Street and Interstate 580, Sheneman said.

He said they’ve also questioned all the registered sex offenders in the area.

Unfortunately, many of the volunteers who were able to help search for the missing girl over the weekend returned to work Monday morning, leaving only 20 to 30 people available on Monday.

Sandra is 4 feet tall with brown hair and brown eyes and weighs 45 pounds. She was last seen wearing a Hello Kitty T-shirt and black leggings.

The foundation is named after Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso, three sightseers who were missing and later found murdered near Yosemite National Park in February of 1999. While they were missing, Carole Sund’s parents, Francis and Carole Carrington, at the request of the FBI, posted rewards both for their safe return and for information leading to the whereabouts of their rental car. The Carringtons believe that the posting of these rewards and the media attention they received helped lead to the first break in the case. (They also helped with the reward for Lacy Peterson and many cases you haven’t heard of.) This is a local case and reminds me that bad things can happen to children anywhere. Will someone please tell the Tracy police that just because they don’t have proof that bad things have happened to Sandra doesn’t mean that she is safe. Eight year old girls don’t normally run away. So someone probably has her, and why would someone kidnap and eight year old if they aren’t up to no good. Every second that she is gone she is danger. And the Tracy police need to remember that.

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