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Four months missing: Lina Sardar Khil's family frustrated but hopeful for little girl's return

While waiting for answers from police, the family and a nonprofit helping with the search have kept a lower profile due to threats from community members.

SAN ANTONIO — Riaz Sardar Khil wakes up each morning wondering if he’ll ever get to hug his daughter again.

Wednesday marks four months since 3-year-old Lina Sardar Khil disappeared from the Villas del Cabo apartments on Dec. 20, 2021. She was reportedly playing in the outside recreation area and left unattended.  

San Antonio Police and the FBI are working together on the missing persons case, but it's been weeks since the last update in the investigation. The leads have been few. The Texas Department of Public Safety activated an AMBER Alert for Lina for about three weeks before it was discontinued.

The search began at the apartment complex off Fredericksburg Road before expanding to multiple areas on the northwest side. FBI dive teams were dispatched from Washington, D.C., as part of one operation off Huebner Road.

Riaz looked forward to celebrating Lina’s fourth birthday on Feb. 20. Instead, it was a day for the community to unite and pray for her safe return. 

Frustration and grief continue overwhelm the father and his pregnant wife, who moved to the U.S. as refugees from Afghanistan.

“It's (a) very hard time, and our pain and sorrow can feel those people who lost their child or died,” said Riaz, through a translator and family friend, Lawang Mangal.

Eagles Flight Advocacy and Outreach has been at the forefront of search and awareness efforts for Lina. The organization’s founder, Pam Allen, hosted eight search parties, which involved community members from all walks of life. 

But the experience took a negative turn, she said, when unruly individuals started interfering, prompting safety concerns and a need for bodyguards. As a result, she decided it was in the best interest of everyone’s wellbeing to halt future search events.

“I’ve seen this family go through so much pain but now torment,” Allen said. “Peoples' allegations of what they believe has happened to people showing up at their door, to threats of violence.”

“It became extremely difficult to have searches when people were following us, or people were taking video or people were threatening us,” she added. 

Despite what’s happened, Allen and crew are keeping optimistic, and hope the community at large continues to support the family as it has during a series of vigils. Those include one where Mayor Ron Nirenberg referred to Lina as a “daughter of San Antonio.”

“This family has shown tremendous courage and their community has just rallied around them,” Allen said.

Mangal grew up in the same Afghan tribe and city as Riaz, so their connection runs deep, even though they’ve only known each other for nearly two years.

Mangal stressed he’s not letting such distractions dampen their spirit to bring Lina home.

“I am very thankful to the Afghan community and also American community and organizations that they were supporting us and continue to work for Lina,” Mangal said. “Everybody is sad, and the community and the family has not forgotten Lina and we are hopeful she will be found.”

A growing monetary reward upwards of $170,000 is being offered to those who provide credible information leading to the discovery of Lina Sardar Khil.

Anyone with information regarding Lina Sardar Khil’s disappearance is urged to please call SAPD’s Missing Persons Unit at (210) 207-7660 or Crime Stoppers at (210) 224-7867.

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