MORGAN HILL (CBS13/CBS5) – The Santa Clara County sheriff says DNA evidence led them to their suspect in the disappearance of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar of Morgan Hill.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said DNA evidence found on Sierra LaMar’s clothing led them to 21-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres of Morgan Hill. Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday evening at a Morgan Hill Safeway store where he worked. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of murder and kidnapping.
LaMar was last seen on the morning of March 16th, leaving for Ann Sobrato High School from her home.
Two days after her disappearance, Sierra’s purse containing some of her clothing and her cellphone were was discovered two miles from where she was last seen. DNA evidence from that clothing came back on March 28th and led investigators to Garcia-Torres. It also linked Garcia-Torres to a previously unsolved attack in Morgan Hill back in 2009.
Sheriff Smith says her department immediately put Garcia-Torres under surveillance in the hopes he would lead them to Sierra. A week later, investigators also took custody of his car, a red Jetta that had been seen around the time of Sierra’s disappearance. Sheriff Smith says they found evidence that linked Sierra to the Jetta.
Garcia-Torres’s DNA had been in a law enforcement database following his arrest on suspicion of felony assault, according to sheriff’s officials. They did not provide details about that arrest.
Authorities believe Sierra was kidnapped and that she is dead. Smith says it appeared to be a random act of violence.
However, Sierra’s family is not giving up that she will be found alive.
“We continue to pray until she is found. Our search is not going to end. As a mother I’m hopeful. Her body has not been found and that gives me hope,” said Sierra’s mother Marlene LaMar.
Sierra’s mother also asked Garcia-Torres to reveal any information he has that could lead to her daughter.