Sheriff: DNA Linked Missing Morgan Hill Teen to Suspect

By: Ja'Mein Beale - Tue, 22 May 2012 11:45:52 -0800

MORGAN HILL (KRON) - Authorities say a 21-year-old man in custody has been linked to the kidnapping and murder of missing Morgan Hill teen Sierra Lamar by DNA evidence found in her bag.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Antolin Garcia-Torres's DNA was found inside a bag belonging to Sierra LaMar. Sierra's DNA was also found on unspecified property belonging to Garcia-Torres, according to sheriff's officials.
Smith said it appeared to be a random act of violence.
"We believe this is the worst kind of crime, a stranger abducting a young girl," she said at a news conference attended by Sierra's family.
Garcia-Torres was arrested late Monday on suspicion of murder and kidnapping of Sierra, whose disappearance more than two months ago prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for organized searches led by the KlaasKids Foundation.
Sierra hasn't been seen or heard from since she left her home in Morgan Hill to go to school on March 16. Authorities believe she was kidnapped while walking to a bus stop.
Smith said Garcia-Torres had been under 24-hour surveillance since March 28 and that evidence also linked him to at least one assault in March 2009. Authorities identified other suspects during the course of the investigation and also put them under surveillance before focusing on Garcia-Torres, Smith said.
Garcia-Torres's DNA had been in a law enforcement database following his arrest on suspicion of felony assault, according to sheriff's officials. They did not provide details about that arrest.
Volunteers and sheriff's officials have searched the fields, open spaces and reservoirs near Morgan Hill since Sierra's disappearance. The KlaasKids Foundation, founded by Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped from her Petaluma home and murdered in 1993, has been organizing volunteer searches on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Klaas says since Sierra's body has not been found despite an arrest, another search for her is scheduled for Wednesday.
Investigators found Sierra's handbag with clothing and a cellphone along the side of the road near her home on March 17, the day after Sierra's mother reported her missing.
Earlier this month, investigators located a red Volkswagen Jetta they said may have been connected to Sierra's abduction given that surveillance cameras and witnesses put the car near the area where authorities believe she disappeared. Smith said late Monday that Garcia-Torres owns the Volkswagen.
Sierra's mother, Marlene Lamar attended Tuesday's press conference and thanked the community for their support during her family's difficult time.
"I would like to thank the community outreaching to find Sierra and all their time and efforts that have gone into this," Lamar said. "We continue to pray, until she's found. Our search is still not going to end. As a mother, I'm hopeful because her body has not been found and that gives me hope."  
Marlene Lamar also had a message for the person responsible for Sierra's disappearance.
"I do have a plea to the perpetrator to please give the information that you have to lead us to Sierra to help end this nightmare. I would like you to come forward and say where she is and end this nightmare for us as a family." 
Stay tuned to KRON 4 and for comprehensive coverage of the Sierra Lamar investigation.  
(The AP contributed to this report. Copyright 2012, KRON 4,  All Rights Reserved.)
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