Police expand Sierra search to San Martin, Gilroy

A volunteer search and rescue crew searches thick brush surrounding Calero Reservoir along McKean Road looking for any evidence in the disappearance of Sierra LaMar.

The search for Sierra LaMar, 15, will expand to San Martin and Gilroy Thursday, nearly three weeks after the missing Morgan Hill resident was reported missing. 

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office search-and-rescue team, including three human remains detection dogs, will search those areas of South County Thursday from 9 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m., according to Sgt. Jose Cardoza. 

Authorities have so far dedicated more than 6,000 personnel hours – including staff from the sheriff’s office and other agencies – to the missing person case. Those authorities have been busy conducting search efforts similar to the one announced for tomorrow, and investigating more than 1,000 tips on the case received via phone calls and e-mails. 

Previous searches conducted by law enforcement authorities focused mostly on areas within a 12-mile radius of Sierra’s northwest Morgan Hill home. 

Sierra has been missing since March 16, when she did not make it to her usual school bus on the way to Sobrato High School, where she is a sophomore, that morning.

On March 17, investigators found Sierra’s cell phone about three-quarters of a mile from her north Morgan Hill home, near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues. The following day, they found her purse containing pants, a T-shirt and undergarments off the side of Santa Teresa Boulevard, another mile north of Sierra’s neighborhood.

On Thursday, volunteer searchers found a cardboard box labeled “stainless steel handcuffs” and used condoms at the west end of Palm Avenue, though investigators do not yet know if these are related to Sierra’s disappearance.

The sheriff’s office is investigating Sierra’s disappearance as an “involuntary missing person” or kidnapping incident. 

The KlaasKids Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit devoted to finding missing children, has scheduled two more volunteer search efforts – one for Saturday, April 7 and one for Wednesday, April 11. 

The foundation last week, from Tuesday through Sunday, enlisted more than 2,000 volunteers to comb the foothills, forests and other remote areas in search of any evidence that might lead authorities to Sierra’s whereabouts. 

For more information on KlaasKids Foundation’s volunteer Sierra LaMar Search Center, at Burnett Elementary School, 85 Tilton Ave., call 201-6364.

Anyone with information on the case can contact Santa Clara County Communications at 299-2311, or send an e-mail to [email protected]

During normal business hours callers can call Sheriff’s Investigators at 808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at 808-4431. Information or tips can also be sent via the Sheriff’s Office website at sccgov.org/portal/site/sheriff. Information can also be submitted by text at 421-6760.

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