CERES -- Police remained tight-lipped about an investigation into a body found buried in a home's back yard as details emerged about a missing teenage girl who once lived there.
Authorities unearthed the body Wednesday at the home in the 3500 block of Alexis Court in Ceres. Alycia Mesiti was 14 years old and living with her father and older brother at the home when she disappeared in August 2006.
Ceres police have said Alycia was having trouble adjusting to life in the valley when her family moved there several months before she disappeared.
The home's owners said the family moved there without the girl's mother, and school officials confirmed that the girl was attending high school in Santa Cruz while her father and brother lived in Ceres. It was unclear where she was living at the time.
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Police said Thursday that the body may be connected to the missing girl, but authorities could not confirm that Friday. Police would not say Friday whether the body had been identified.
"I do not want to answer that question at this time," said Deputy Police Chief Mike Borges. "We do not want to alert anyone who might be responsible for this death."
No other details are expected until Monday.
Police would not say whether they had identified any suspects, whether they had contacted anyone who might have lived at the home and whether they had determined the gender of the body.
The Bee called members of Alycia's extended family in Santa Cruz and San Jose on Friday, but they declined to comment.
Some people who had met Alycia spoke about her and her family Friday.
In December 2005, Alycia, her father and her brother moved to the Alexis Court home owned by Mercedes Macias and Sergio Ponce. The owners said the family rented the house. The family previously had lived in San Jose.
Macias said the girl's mother was not around when the family moved in. She said she was told that the mother was supposed to move in, but that never happened.
Macias and Ponce did not know whether the girl's parents were separated or in the process of a divorce. Macias said Alycia's brother was two years older than his sister, and the two teens were well-behaved.
"She was a nice little girl, and she walked to the nearby park with her little Chihuahua," Macias said. "She would sometimes drop off the rent check for her father."
On Sept. 15, 2005, Alycia's father had enrolled her at Central Valley High School, but she never attended, said Jay Simmonds, Ceres Unified School District spokesman.
District officials on Oct. 6, 2005, received a request for Alycia's school records from Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, saying she was attending school there. Santa Cruz City School District officials did not return phone calls Friday afternoon.
It was unclear where Alycia was living while she attended school in Santa Cruz, but police have said she was living in Ceres when she went out of town for a weekend trip in August 2006 and never returned.
On Aug. 11, 2006, Alycia returned to San Jose to spend the weekend with a friend, police have said.
On Aug. 13, 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. She was reported missing Aug. 16.
Family left home in December '06
Ponce said Alycia's family had a one-year rental agreement that expired Dec. 31, 2006, the day they moved out. He said Alycia's father barely mentioned his daughter's disappearance.
"He didn't say a lot about it," Ponce said. "He kind of looked upset and stressed out. He said they wanted to move back to the Bay Area."
The homeowners said they did not know where Alycia's father and her brother moved.
Two tenants have rented the Ceres home since then, Ponce said. The home has been vacant since the fall.
Judy Charlton, who lives across the street, said she remembers seeing Alycia in front of the home, but she did not remember seeing the girl's parents.
"(The residents in the neighborhood) didn't even know a girl was missing," Charlton said Friday. "I find it extremely strange that a girl was missing and we didn't see anyone, the family or police, knocking on doors looking for this girl."
Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk said Alycia was reported as a runaway, and there was no indication of foul play.
Had police known there was a possibility someone might be responsible for her disappearance, de Werk said, officers would have knocked on neighborhood doors and used other methods to find the teen.
He said Ceres police get 250 to 300 reports of runaway children each year, and most of the time the children return home on their own.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.