An image from a hospital surveillance camera provided by Phoenix police… (Phoenix Police Department )
The story of the missing girl has gripped Arizona for days: how an 11-year-old with leukemia may die after her mother took her out of a children’s hospital.
Now police say this isn’t the first time that the parents of Emily Bracamontes have prematurely spirited her away from receiving medical care.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said Tuesday that the parents, Norma and Luis Bracamontes, did the same thing at least once in California. He could not provide more details.
Emily's family leads a somewhat nomadic life in Arizona, Mexico and California, Martos said. They happened to be in Phoenix during Emily’s latest treatment.
On Tuesday police officials were still looking for Emily, who left Phoenix Children’s Hospital about a week ago with her mother.
On the evening of Nov. 28, Norma Bracamontes guided her daughter to a hospital lobby bathroom, changed her clothes, adjusted a wig to her daughter’s head and pulled an IV from a catheter connected to her heart, Martos said. She then led her out of the hospital, he said, adding that no one saw the two leave.
Medical and police officials said the catheter in Emily's chest is probably not sealed and could expose her heart to infection.
“If she gets an infection due to this, it could be a matter of days before she dies,” Martos said.
On Saturday, the girl’s father was stopped by officials at the U.S.-Mexico border and was asked about his daughter’s whereabouts. He said he didn’t know anything, Martos said, but officials are dubious.
“It seems suspect to us,” Martos said. “You’re the dad, but you don’t know where she is?”
Martos said authorities weren’t sure whether there was a criminal aspect to the case and would first have to speak with the mother.
“If the mom is aware of the dangers, and I would suspect that she’s aware of it, especially by now, and she’s failing to provide proper care for her child? There is an element of child neglect or child abuse,” Martos said. “It’s difficult to say if there’s a crime without speaking with her.”
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