Family brings WFTV along as search continues for missing mother, kids

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Nearly 80 searchers were out Friday continuing to look for the bodies of Yessenia Suarez, 28, and her two children, Michael Otto, 8, and Thalia Otto, 9.  The three disappeared from their Deltona home Oct. 23.

On Oct. 24, sheriff's investigators said the woman and children were dead, although they had not located their bodies at the time.

Channel 9's Blaine Tolison spent Friday with Suarez's family as they joined in on the search efforts.

Family members told WFTV the outpouring of community support has kept them going in their search. They said they were also happy to see more than 80 people searching, including law enforcement divers in the St. John's River.

Officials said they searched seven lakes and ponds on Friday and 11 on Thursday.

Family members spent Friday searching a power line road in DeBary, west from the search efforts of the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Some local Deltona residents are helping the family in their search, and more are expected to help over the weekend.

Suarez's husband, Luis Toledo, 31, has confessed to killing Suarez, according to investigators, but he denied killing the children. He told investigators he killed Suarez when he hit her in the throat during an argument.

Toledo has refused to tell them where Suarez's body is. He has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.

"Luis Toledo could tell us where they're at and we wouldn't have to worry about this. We could take and bring closure to this and make sure the families know where their loved ones are," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson.

Investigators said they have exhausted all of their leads, so they're expanding their search areas and calling in more departments to help.

"We've searched areas first that we thought had the greatest potential and there was reasons that led us to those areas and now what we're doing, is we're starting back at the center, back at the house," Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said.

Volusia County, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Seminole and Lake counties, devoted resources to the search. On Friday officers from the Ocala Police Department and members of the Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue joined in the search.

"We've seen far too often where in a case like this there was no recovery made and anything we can do in our power to make the recovery, so at least they can have closure," Johnson said.

On Thursday, officials released the 911 call from Suarez's mother, who called authorities when she hadn't heard from her daughter, knowing that she had been fighting with her husband.

After the call, a missing person's alert went out and lasted about a day before officials told Channel 9 the mother and children were dead.