The family of Sierra LaMar has changed the criteria for a $25,000 reward for information about the teen’s disappearance.
The reward is now on the table for anyone who provides information leading to Sierra’s safe return, or to the prosecution of the person or people responsible for her disappearance, according to a press release from the KlaasKids Foundation.
“We have not given up on finding Sierra alive,” said the 15-year-old cheerleader’s father Steve LaMar. “We believe that there are people out there who know something and this is our way of encouraging them to step forward.”
Meanwhile, the man police think is responsible for Sierra’s disappearance – Antolin Garcia Torres, 21 of Morgan Hill – is no longer represented by the Santa Clara County public defender’s office, according to authorities.
Garcia Torres has appeared in Santa Clara County superior court in San Jose twice since his arrest May 21. He was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of murdering Sierra. He has not yet entered a plea.
On Thursday morning the case was assigned to the county’s alternate public defender’s office due to a conflict of interest, according to Alternate Public Defender David Epps. He said he has “no idea” what exactly the conflict was with the public defender.
Jose Guzman, assistant public defender, declined to specify the conflict. News reports published Thursday said the office is also representing Garcia Torres’ father, who is in custody on allegations of sexual abuse.
“The client has a right to a conflict-free counsel,” Guzman said.
Sierra has been missing since March 16. Sheriff’s investigators think she was kidnapped as she was walking to her school bus stop from her home in north Morgan Hill. Sierra was a sophomore at Sobrato High School at the time of her disappearance.
Investigators have not found the teen’s body or any other physical evidence that she is dead. However, authorities think she is dead based on her lack of contact with anyone since the morning of her disappearance.
DNA evidence places Sierra and Garcia Torres together at some point, according to authorities from the sheriff’s and D.A.’s offices. Sierra’s DNA was found in Garcia Torres’ Volkswagen Jetta, and his DNA was found on some of Sierra’s discarded belongings that were found shortly after she was reported missing.
Volunteers continue to search for Sierra or any evidence of her whereabouts. The KlaasKids Foundation, ChildQuest International, the Laura Recovery Center and friends of Sierra and her family continue to organize search efforts every Wednesday and Saturday, starting at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill.
For more information on the reward and search efforts go to findsierralamar.com.