Mother of Sierra LaMar to murder suspect: ‘Say where she is’
Authorities in Santa Clara County may be convinced that missing high school cheerleader Sierra Lamar is dead, but her mother vowed not to stop looking for her daughter.
On Tuesday, even as Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced the arrest of a 21-year-old suspect on suspicion of murder, Marlena LaMar said she still has hope her 15-year-old daughter is alive somewhere.
"Her body hasn't been found," Marlene LaMar said at a news conference, her voice breaking. "I believe there was a reason she wasn't found. We're not giving up on that."
At a news conference, Smith said there was "direct and circumstantial" evidence that led investigators to believe that Antolin Garcia-Torres, 21, kidnapped and killed the Morgan Hill girl, who disappeared in March on her way to school.
Investigators think Garcia-Torres, a Morgan Hill resident, picked Sierra at random.
"We believe this is the worst kind of crime: a stranger abduction of a young girl," Smith said at Sheriff's Department headquarters in San Jose.
Investigators found the teenager's cellphone March 17, the day after she was last seen walking to her bus stop. The next day, they found a bag with her clothes folded neatly inside.
DNA was found on the items in the bag, Smith said. After receiving lab results March 28, Smith said, investigators identified Garcia-Torres, who was already in the system from a previous arrest, as their suspect and began around-the-clock surveillance.
"We needed additional information," Smith said. "We were hoping he would lead us to where Sierra was."
Other suspects were identified and watched during the investigation, Smith said, but detectives believe Garcia-Torres acted alone.
Although the body or a weapon hasn't been found, Smith said, investigators have "strong facts" indicating that Sierra was murdered.
"These are very, very difficult cases to prosecute, a homicide when you have not found a victim," she said. "But it has been done."
Marlene LaMar begged her daughter's suspected killer to "say where she is."
"Please, please give the information that you have to lead us to Sierra to help end this nightmare," she said.
-- Kate Mather
Photo: A sign with a photo of missing teen Sierra LaMar is posted at an intersection in Morgan Hill, Calif., last month. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press