OAKLAND -- The family of Daphne Viola Webb celebrated her second birthday Thursday, but Daphne wasn't there.
Ninety days have passed since the girl's reported disappearance, and there has been no trace of the Oakland youngster who loved to sing, have her picture taken and was what her parents called their miracle baby after several unsuccessful pregnancies.
On Thursday afternoon, her family gathered at 79th Avenue and International Boulevard for a candlelight vigil. The gathering was not the way they wanted to mark the little girl's birthday, but their mission is to keep the story of her disappearance circulating, in the hope that she can still be found.
"We just wanted to come out and recognize Daphne
Family members released 24 different-colored balloons, one for each month of the girl's life, including three pink balloons for each month she's been missing.
Oakland police and the FBI continue to work the case, but there have been no new searches in six weeks.
"We are still looking for her, still searching for her and we still need the public's help,'' said Oakland police Sgt. Mike Gantt, the department's lead investigator on the case.
On the morning of July 10, the child's father, John Webb, 49, drove his black SUV to Gazzali's liquor store in the 7900 block of International Boulevard. He parked the vehicle on 79th Street, then went inside, bought an energy drink and talked briefly on his cellphone, according to surveillance tapes released by police.
Webb's 87-year-old mother, who has dementia, remained in the SUV. Webb told police that the child was in the back seat; when he returned, he said, she was gone, the child's car seat was askew and the elderly woman's purse was missing.
From nearly day one of their investigation, police have questioned that story.
They called on anyone who had seen the child and father (or the child) in the 30 days before July 10 to come forward, but no witnesses have stepped forward.
Webb attended Thursday's rally, making his first appearance at an event for the child since shortly after her disappearance. He was arrested July 11 on suspicion of felony child endangerment because the child was not in proper care in the SUV, but prosecutors declined to file charges; he was released from jail the following day. He remains a person of interest in the case, police said.
The child's mother, Kiana Davis Webb, has never been named a person of interest or a suspect.
Police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said family members, including John Webb, have been cooperative with police, but she declined to release any details about police dealings with him.
"We are just hopeful," Kevin Davis said. "We know what the statistics say, and we know what people say about (the chances of finding her) each day going by, but we are not willing to believe that.
"We want to hold onto the hope that we will have her back."
There is a reward of as much as $20,000 for information leading to the whereabouts of the child.
Anyone with information about the case can call the Oakland Police Department's missing persons unit at 510-238-3641.
Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.