Law enforcement investigators have interviewed more than 50 teenagers in Morgan Hill and Fremont in hopes of turning up some clues that might lead them to find Sierra LaMar, 15, who has been missing since Friday, authorities said.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office investigators plan to continue interviewing students at Sobrato High School, LaMar’s current school since she moved to north Morgan Hill in October, and at Washington High School, where she attended before moving here.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza said forensic examinations of Sierra’s cell phone and laptop computer “have not revealed information beneficial to Sierra’s disappearance.” There is still no evidence indicating LaMar disappeared as a result of kidnapping or other crime.
LaMar’s Droid mobile phone was found about three-quarters of a mile from her home, in a field near Scheller Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard, authorities said. The phone was found Saturday night, after a day of occasionally heavy rain storms.
Forensics investigators will continue to examine the phone and its contents when it is dry, Sheriff’s Lt. Troy Smith said. The phone is still being processed for DNA evidence and fingerprints. The rain “isn’t really a factor” as far as affecting the presence of fingerprints.
Nor is the rain a significant factor for search-and-rescue tracking dogs who attempted to find LaMar by her scent Saturday morning, Smith added. The dogs lost Sierra’s scent at the end of her driveway, where it connects with the closest road, Paquita Espana Court. The driveway is at the end of the court, in a cul-de-sac.
“What this could possibly mean is she may have been picked up by someone or may have even been abducted at the end of her driveway,” Smith said. He added that the dogs used in the search have a history of being “very accurate” in pinpointing precise trails and areas where their target scent might be found.
While the rain could even “hold the scent down” or preserve it, Smith noted that time and wind can weaken the scent the dogs are tracking.
LaMar was reported missing Friday afternoon, after her family learned she did not attend school that day, authorities said. It is likely she went missing about 7 a.m., the time she normally leaves home to begin walking to her school bus stop at Palm and Dougherty avenues. Her last “tweet” on her Twitter account was posted from a computer at 6:29 a.m. Friday. She usually picks up the school bus about 7:15 a.m.
Her phone was found in the opposite direction of where her bus stop is.
Investigators Tuesday also began to repeat some of their initial responses to the incident, such as combing the area surrounding LaMar’s home and re-interviewing some of her neighbors, Cardoza said.
And authorities from the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement team have contacted all convicted sex offense registrants within a 10-mile radius of LaMar’s mother’s home, Cardoza said. Today, investigators started to focus on registrants outside the 10-mile radius. There are 267 sex offense registrants in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy, and investigators plan to contact all of them to determine their whereabouts when Sierra went missing.
LaMar’s mother Marlene and her boyfriend Rick Gardiner, as well as the teen’s father Steve LaMar have all been ruled out as suspects, according to Smith.
“The entire family has fully cooperated with our agency,” Smith said. “All of the family (mother, father, Gardiner) have alibis and can be accounted for at the time Sierra went missing.”
Steve LaMar, who is a registered sex offender living in Fremont, released a statement earlier today asking the public to focus on the search for his daughter rather than his past.
“I immediately disclosed this history to the police on the very first day of the investigation into my daughter’s disappearance, in the interests of openness, truthfulness, and cooperation,” read the statement. “I ask that you please not shift the focus away from the investigation and from finding Sierra. I also ask that you please not let my past shape your opinion of Sierra or anyone in our family.”
The family is even further concerned about the fact that Sierra has asthma, and she left the house that day without her medical inhaler, Gardiner said.
Sierra is about 5-feet, 2-inches tall with a thin build and dark hair. She was last seen with a black and pink “Juicy Couture” brand purse, authorities said. She has no prior history of running away.
Investigators so far have interviewed more than 100 people – including family, friends, classmates, neighbors and others – in relation to LaMar’s disappearance, Cardoza said. Police have also followed up on more than 150 tips – such as possible sightings and leads – regarding the case.
Her photo and vital information were posted today to the website of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at http://tinyurl.com/7276pz9.
Anyone with information on the case can contact Santa Clara County Communications at (408) 299-2311. During normal business hours callers can call Sheriff’s Investigators at (408) 808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 808-4431. Information or tips can also be sent via the Sheriff’s Office website at: http://www.sccgov.org/portal/site/sheriff/
Information can also be submitted by text at (408) 421-6760.