Kimberly Lopez in an undated photo provided by Oxnard Police Department. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT)


Two years ago today was the last time a social worker saw Kimberly Lopez.

She was just 2 years old, and what has happened to her since then remains a mystery.

The Oxnard Police Department launched a search for the brown-haired, brown-eyed girl last September when a missing-child report was filed by county Children and Family Services.

Over the past six months, detectives have traveled out of the county tracking down leads. Her case file has grown to 2,700 pages.

The FBI, Ventura County District Attorney's Office and California Department of Justice all have joined the effort.

But so far, no one has found Kimberly.

“Everyone wants to see this girl returned safely,” said Detective Jeff Kay of the Oxnard Police Department.

Information continues to come in through search warrants, interviews and sporadic calls to a police tip line, Kay said this week.

“If we find anyone with any information, we’ll talk to them,” he said.

But he believes at least a few people know "the whereabouts of the child.”

According to Kay, two of those people are her parents, Omar Lopez and Mayra Chavez, who have been in jail since October for allegedly being uncooperative with authorities.

Kimberly, now 4, spent some of her first few years as a dependent of Ventura County Juvenile Court. Her father regained custody in March 2015, court records show.

The last sighting came just before her dependency case was closed.


Once a case is dismissed, social workers no longer have the authority to visit children or monitor families, officials said. But in July, county Children and Family Services received a call that something might be wrong.

Officials said social workers tried to visit her home several times but couldn't locate her, and they filed the missing-person report.

Police say a trail wasn’t easy to find. Kimberly had no fingerprints on record, had no online presence and was not yet in school. Authorities were happy to find even one photo from 2015.

The picture recovered by detectives shows Kimberly at a birthday party in February of that year. She was in the background, and police had to enlarge the image to use on a missing-person flier.

Inside police headquarters, the lead detectives, Kay and Scott Aaron, spent months working out of an office they called the “Kimberly Room.”

A timeline of her young life stretched over one wall; another was covered with contacts, names of people detectives had interviewed and others they still wanted to talk to.

On a third wall, they had sketched out a strategy and written their goal: “Find Kimberly.”

The goal remains, Kay said, but the Kimberly room has been closed.

He and Aaron have had to take on other cases while still chasing leads and conducting interviews to try to find Kimberly.

“Anything that sends us in another direction, we’ll follow it,” Kay said.

“This is not the normal kind of case for us to work on,” he said. “I’m always thinking ‘Where is she? Is she OK?’”

The tip line that opened in December receives an occasional call. Earlier this week, three came in from the same number in Los Angeles, but when Kay called back, it was disconnected.

Police say the girl's parents had told detectives that in 2015 they took Kimberly to live with a former boyfriend of Chavez's mother.

But authorities say they tracked down the man, who lives in Mexico, and he knew nothing about the girl and had never even met her.

According to police, one of the parents recently changed the story about what happened to Kimberly. Kay declined to give details this week but said detectives were looking into the new account.

In January, authorities also launched a social media campaign to try to raise the case’s profile.

The FBI posted Kimberly's missing-child flier on Twitter, garnering hundreds of retweets and likes.


An agent also is working with Oxnard detectives to locate Kimberly, and the office will continue to publicize the case, said Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI's Los Angeles field office.

"We certainly are working on any leads that we do get. We're not in a position to comment at this point on any," she said.

The Oxnard Police Department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Kimberly and opened a tip line in December. To leave a tip, call 200-2370.




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