Anyone who saw a red Volkswagen Jetta with a black hood in north Morgan Hill or south San Jose on or around March 16 is asked to contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, because investigators have linked the vehicle to the disappearance and kidnapping of Sierra LaMar.
The sheriff’s office reported earlier this week they have recovered the 90s-model, red four-door Volkswagen Jetta with a black hood, and it’s part of the investigation into the missing teen’s kidnapping, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza.
Several photographs of the vehicle, snapped by video surveillance cameras monitoring public and residential areas were released by the sheriff’s office this week as well.
But investigators are keeping quiet on the details of the vehicle, and Cardoza declined to say whether or not they have found evidence in or on the car that places Sierra inside it after she was kidnapped March 16.
Other information including where the car was found and when, who it is registered to, where it was photographed, and whether or not investigators have been able to gather any useful evidence from the vehicle.
Detectives have told him that releasing such information could potentially compromise the investigation, Cardoza said.
“This case remains an open and active investigation, and there’s still further work that has to be done,” he said.
Authorities have confirmed the car is linked to Sierra’s disappearance by other witness statements and public video surveillance cameras.
And while witnesses and police in other communities recently reported kidnapping attempts in which the would-be assailant drove a car with a similar description, Cardoza said Sierra’s kidnapping and the vehicle recovered in association with it does not appear “at this time” to be related to those incidents.
The other incidents happened in San Jose and Walnut Creek within weeks after Sierra’s disappearance.
Sierra, a 15-year-old sophomore at Sobrato High School and a cheerleader for the Black Diamond Elite club squad in San Jose, was reported missing March 16. Police think she was kidnapped as she was walking to her normal school bus stop near Palm and Dougherty avenues, about a quarter-mile from her north Morgan Hill home.
The only other physical evidence reported by investigators is Sierra’s cell phone and her purse containing some of her clothing, which were found off the side of the road within a couple miles of her home on March 17 and March 18.
Detectives and officers from a number of agencies have also spent thousands of hours interviewing people who know Sierra from Morgan Hill and Fremont, her former home.
Investigators still think there’s a “possibility” that Sierra is still alive.
“We don’t have anything that proves she’s not alive,” Cardoza said.
This belief is not necessarily based on the discovery of the red Volkswagen, but has been the detectives’ view from “day one,” Cardoza added.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s dive team continues to search ponds, reservoirs and other waterways in South County and South San Jose, Cardoza said. Earlier this week they searched a number of ponds on private properties west of Monterey Road in unincorporated south San Jose. Many of these waterways are found on cattle ranches and farms in the area.
Thursday the dive team began searching Almaden Guadalupe reservoirs, also in south San Jose, Cardoza said. The dive team uses side-scan sonar technology to take pictures of the bottoms of the waterways, from the surface.
If any unusual or suspicious-looking objects are seen in the photos, which are read on a standard computer, then divers are sent into the water to investigate.
Tonight at 9 p.m. on the Lifetime network, the television show “America’s Most Wanted” will air a segment on Sierra. A producer and crew from the show were in Morgan Hill in late April shooting interviews with Sierra’s parents, as well as other footage for the show.
Sierra’s father, Steve LaMar, flew to Los Angeles that week for an interview with the show’s founder and host, John Walsh.
Producer Jocelyn Sigue said while she was in Morgan Hill that the purpose of the segment is to keep Sierra’s story alive and to spread it to a wider audience.
She noted that AMW has a strong track record of helping the public and law enforcement find fugitives and missing persons.
Anyone with information on the Volkswagen Jetta identified by investigators, or on Sierra’s possible whereabouts, can contact the sheriff’s tip line at 299-2311 or [email protected]. Callers can call Sheriff’s Investigators at 808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at 808-4431. Tips can also be sent via sccgov.org/portal/site/sheriff or by text at 421-6760.