CERES — The body found buried last week in a home's backyard has been identified as Alycia Mesiti, who went missing at age 14 in August 2006, police announced today.
The girl's father and his girlfriend were arrested Saturday in Los Angeles after Ceres police served a search warrant at his Southern California home and found a methamphetamine lab.
The Los Angeles Police Department arrested Mark Edward Mesiti, 41, and Shelly Welborn, 39, on drug and child endangerment charges.
Ceres police said no charges have been filed against Mark Mesiti in the death of his daughter. Mesiti, however, is considered a possible suspect, said Sgt. Jose Berber, a Ceres police spokesman.
Mesiti is being held on $500,000 bail in the LA County Jail.
The cause of the girl's death has not been determined.
"We have been told it could take two months," Berber said.
After a tip led investigators to Alycia's body, Ceres police detectives and the department's Street Crimes Unit began to interview people related to her Ceres home, Berber said. Since Alycia disappeared 2½ years ago and her father moved away, two other tenants have lived at the house.
Ceres police, with help from LA police, served the search warrant at Mark Mesiti's apartment in the 2100 Block of Bentley Avenue in Los Angeles.
The investigators found a working meth lab inside the apartment, Berber said. Welborn's 12-year-old daughter lived with the couple at the apartment, he said. She was taken into protective custody.
When Alycia disappeared, Berber said she was living with her father and Welborn at the single-story house in the 3500 block of Alexis Court in Ceres.
The family had moved from San Jose, Ceres police have said, and Alycia was having trouble adjusting to life in the valley. Mark Mesiti, who had custody of Alycia at the time of her disappearance. Police have not identified Alycia's mother, where she lived at the time of her daughter's disappearance or where she is today.
On Aug. 11, 2006, Alycia returned to San Jose to spend the weekend with a friend, her family told police.
On Aug. 13, police were told she called her family to say she had gone camping with other friends, but would not tell her family who the friends were or where she had gone. That was the last time anyone heard from her.
Ceres police said today Welborn reported Alycia missing as a runaway on Aug. 15. Berber said that Welborn could not elaborate when asked then where Alycia had gone or where she could be found.
Ceres police recently received information that compelled them to dig in the home's back yard.
Wednesday, detectives searched the house with help from the Sacramento County Search and Rescue K-9 Team. A police dog directed the detectives to an area in the back yard.
A team of investigators converged at the Alexis Court home, including coroner's officials and evidence technicians from the state Department of Justice, Berber said.
Investigators found the girl's remains buried beneath the lawn just a few feet from a concrete patio, digging a pit about 6 feet by 6 feet, and about 4 feet deep.
Stanislaus County district attorney's office investigators have urged Ceres police not to release any further information about this case at this time, Berber said.
"Investigators are working around the clock, and this case is far from being over," he said. "Additional parties still need to be interviewed that may have been at the location at the time of Alycia's disappearance."
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.