The father of two young children missing from a home where their grandparents and an uncle were found slain had moved out of his own residence before the disappearances, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

Maricopa County sheriff's officials found nothing when they searched Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala's home in Phoenix on Monday, sheriff's spokeswoman Kip Rustenburg said. Neighbors said they last saw him there Saturday evening, Rustenburg said.

Authorities have been searching for Cervantes Zavala since Monday, when his two children, 18-month-old Bryan Cervantes and 3-year-old Jennifer Cervantes, were discovered missing a few hours after the bodies of their mother's parents and brother were found.

Authorities believed the children were with Cervantes Zavala and that he may have been headed toward Mexico. Cervantes Zavala has been described as an "investigative lead" rather than a suspect.

On Tuesday, the children's mother, Oneida Isabel Acosta, said she hoped someone in Arizona or Mexico would lead authorities to her children.

"Mom loves you and is waiting, and I will wait for them always," she said through an interpreter.

Acosta said that she left her husband a few months ago and had been living with her parents and that she had taken out an order of protection against her husband in March.

Queen Creek, southeast of Phoenix, is about 170 miles from the Nogales, Ariz., border port.