Public asked to volunteer for search party for Sierra

A Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue team walks through a field along Santa Teresa Blvd. between Scheller Avenue and Richmond Avenue Saturday.

Sierra LaMar, 15, remains missing 11 days since she was last seen before leaving to catch her school bus in Morgan Hill. The public is now being asked to volunteer in a search party organized by the KlaasKids Foundations that could attract hundreds of people.

Sierra’s mother, Marlene LaMar, called the Foundation – a nonprofit benefit with the mission to stop crimes against children and assist families of missing children – and asked for help in organizing a community volunteer search. Since Sierra went missing in the early morning of March 16, law enforcement and volunteer teams organized by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department have been actively searching for clues.

The Polly Klaas Foundation is helping find the Morgan Hill teen by “inundating” the immediate area and the state with fliers and publicity about the case, according to response department director for the Foundation Cindy Rudometkin.

After the weekend’s heightened efforts to locate the 15-year-old yielded no significant leads, Sgt. Jose Cardoza with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department said the extra help from the foundation is appreciated. 

“They did advise us they’re going to be coordinating search efforts, which is good,” Cardoza said. “It’s an extra resource for our staff, it’s an extra set of eyes and ears.”

Brad Dennis, the director of search operations for the KlaasKids Foundation will lead the search party’s efforts. The KlaasKids Foundation was established in 1994 in honor of founder Marc Klaas’ daughter, Polly Hannah Klaas, who was kidnapped and murdered at the age of 12.

Klaas volunteer Tricia Griffiths said Dennis became very close with Marc Klaas when Polly went missing in 1993. 

“He always says that Polly is his boss,” said Griffiths. “He does this for Polly and all of the missing children.”

Dennis said he lives in Florida and flew in to California to spearhead the voluntary search operation. 

Volunteers wishing to participate in the search for Sierra must be at least 18 years of age and bring a photo ID. While Griffiths wishes younger supporters were able to assist with the search, the age is set at 18 for legal reasons, she said. 

Dennis said volunteers will be given specific instructions prior to the search on what to look for, in addition to directions on how to report any findings back to law enforcement. Volunteers should not touch or handle anything that might be considered evidence, Dennis said.

“It’s a very odd situation, because we don’t know what Sierra was wearing when she disappeared,” he noted. 

Volunteers should also remember to dress appropriately for the weather according to a press release sent out Monday, and wear long pants and sturdy shoes. Local forecasts for Tuesday call for wind and showers in the afternoon, with temperature lows of 50 degrees and highs of 66 degrees. 

“We need people who can do foot searches as well as individuals who are willing to work in the search center,” Dennis said. “We are also looking for donations of bottled water and office supplies.”

The volunteer search starts today at 8 a.m. at Burnett Elementary School, 85 Tilton Ave. in northwest Morgan Hill. Those who would like to help should check in between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Searches are scheduled to continue on through April 1.

For more information about the search or information on how you can donate supplies, volunteers can call Tricia Griffiths at (801) 560-1933 or email [email protected]

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