The family of Sierra LaMar increased the reward for information leading to the missing Morgan Hill teen’s safe return home.
“As a result of some generous contributions and ongoing fundraising, including a large anonymous contribution, we are able to increase the reward to $25,000,” announced Steve LaMar, Sierra’s father, at a press conference at Burnett Elementary School Saturday.
Steve LaMar made the announcement with Sierra’s mother Marlene LaMar and Marc Klaas, of the KlaasKids Foundation, while volunteers joined yet another search effort that was headquartered at the school.
The family initially offered a $10,000 reward earlier this month. That amount was also generated by fundraising efforts.
Sierra, a 15-year-old sophomore at Sobrato High School, has been missing since March 16. Police think she was kidnapped outside her home near Palm and Dougherty avenues in north Morgan Hill, as she was walking to her regular school bus stop.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office has previously reported having received and investigated close to 2,000 tips on Sierra’s possible whereabouts.
Steve LaMar added at the press conference Saturday that the family is in “constant communication” with investigators from the sheriff’s office, but did not indicate if he knew any details on the investigation of numerous leads that law enforcement continue to receive.
Fundraising efforts to continue coordinated volunteer searches and contribute to the reward through the Sierra LaMar Fund are “ongoing,” Steve LaMar said.
Volunteers were selling T-shirts with Sierra’s picture printed on them, as well as decorative ribbons and jewelry at the search center. A number of fundraisers for the Sierra LaMar Fund are upcoming, including a May 3 self-defense seminar at Sobrato High School, and a pasta feed May 4 at Holy Spirit Parish Hall in Fremont.
Sierra moved to Morgan Hill in October 2011 with her mother and mother’s boyfriend, from Fremont where she attended Washington High School.
Investigators so far have reported finding Sierra’s cell phone March 17, and her purse containing some of her clothing Marcy 18. The items were found in two different places along Santa Teresa Boulevard, along a northwesterly route from Sierra’s home.
On Saturday by 11 a.m., about 150 volunteers showed up to participate in the search for Sierra. About 100 of those were returning volunteers who have participated in earlier search efforts.
The KlaasKids Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit that offers search services for the families of missing children, organized the first searches for Sierra starting March 27.
In recent weeks, the search efforts have become more locally organized. Morgan Hill resident Brian Miller, a family friend of the LaMars, is the director of the volunteer operation.
Miller said Saturday that he went through training courses with KlaasKids staff in order to become the local director. He added he and other searchers stay in close contact with the foundation, as well as ChildQuest International and other organizations.
Although the number of volunteers seems to have dropped off in recent weeks, volunteer Ernie Wheeler said despite his 40-plus years conducting professional search-and-rescue missions, the local effort to find Sierra remains unique.
“The news coverage has been phenomenal, and the response from the public has been unbelievable,” Wheeler said.
Among those searching Saturday were new volunteers Steve Seelig and Ed Mitchell, both of San Jose, and both members of the Bikers Against Child Abuse Silicon Valley chapter.
BACA is an international club, with more than 400 chapters in the U.S., Seelig said.
“This month is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, and we’ve been wanting to come join the search” for Sierra, Seelig said.
Sierra LaMar is about 5-feet, 2-inches tall with a thin build and dark hair.
For more information on the Sierra LaMar Search Center, call 201-6364.
Anyone with information on the case can contact Santa Clara County Communications at 299-2311, or e-mail [email protected] 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 sccgov.org/portal/site/sheriff or by text at 421-6760.