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Group searches for missing mother, children

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Updated: 11/11/2013 12:31 pm
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Members of Texas Equusearch are back out Monday searching for the bodies of a Deltona mother and her two children, who have been missing for nearly three weeks.

The group spent Saturday and Sunday helping investigators in the search for Yessenia Suarez, 28, and her two children, Michael Otto, 8, and Thalia Otto, 9.

They have been searching in several wooded and rural areas of DeLand and Deltona. The group plans to expand their search and continue to evaluate new potential search locations.

"We are a little bit more thorough when our searchers are out today and we are doing some more recon and some more mapping," Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller said on Sunday.

Texas Equusearch joined the search for the bodies of Suarez and her children on Saturday, the same day the biological father of Michael and Thalia Otto discussed the case with WFTV.

"Those are my kids that I brought into this world and he took them from me," Michael Otto said.

Michael Otto was emotional as he discussed the disappearances of his of children and their mother. He said what keeps him going is finding Suarez and the children, who investigators believe are dead.

"I think it would give me, as well as the family, closure," Michael Otto told WFTV reporter Anthony DiLorenzo.

Suarez's husband and the children's stepfather, Luis Toledo, has admitted to killing his wife but he won't say where her body is. Toledo told investigators someone else is responsible for the children's deaths, but their bodies have not been recovered either.

Miller said his group plans to continue searching and they're determined to make sure all possible areas are covered.

"You know I don't think any of us have any intentions of pulling the plug on this anytime soon," Miller said.

Suarez and her children have been missing since October 23. The three disappeared after a domestic violence incident in Lake Mary involving Toledo. He was initially arrested for domestic battery, but is now facing a second-degree murder charge and is being held on no bond at the Volusia County Jail.

Family and friends gathered for a vigil Sunday night.

"We are in so much pain, but the pain is shared by the community, by the friends we have here tonight," said Ruben Perez, the stepfather of Suarez.

Felicia Perez, Suarez's mother, said the support from strangers gives her comfort and it's what keeps her moving forward.

"It makes us feel good that everybody is helping in this search for my daughter, my grandkids. Is this what I wanted? No, but it helps us feel good," Perez said.

Texas Equusearch has worked with law enforcement on searches in other high-profile missing persons cases in central Florida, including Jennifer Kesse, Tracy Ocasio and Caylee Anthony.

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