It has been a busy weekend for KlaasKids. We facilitated a meeting between the Sierra LaMar Search Center, her family and Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-11) on Saturday morning. Simultaneously, we participated in an important grass roots rally on behalf of Proposition 35 in Elk Grove. After that Violet and I drove to Sacramento where KlaasKids Foundation SAR Director Brad Dennis was facilitating a weekend worth of searches for missing UC Davis coed Linnea Lomax. Then we found something.
Congressman McNerney is the first member of Congress to visit search center since Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15) visited on June 6. Both members of Congress have expressed support for a legislation being considered as a result of Sierra’s disappearance. The new law would close the loophole that allows schools to wait until the end of the day before notifying parents that their children did not attend school.
Proposition 35 continues to pick up support as Election Day approaches on November 6. Currently, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Congresswoman Jackie Speier lead a list of more than 60-elected officials who publicly support the anti-trafficking ballot measure that will also bridge Megan’s Law into the 21st Century. They are joined by law enforcement groups representing more than 90,000-sworn police officers and more than 125-child advocacy organizations throughout California.
Linnea Lomax is a 19-year-old coed student who disappeared on the early afternoon of Tuesday June 26 after walking away from an outpatient mental health facility near the American River in Sacramento, California. The day before, June 25, Linnea had been released from a psychiatric facility where she was recovering from a psychological breakdown. On July 4, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department absolved themselves of any responsibility for locating Linnea, despite her fragile mental state, when they said, Potential sightings, theories and tips that initially flooded the tip line set up by Linnea’s family have since been reduced to a trickle.
Left to their own devices the family hired a private investigator to lead the search for Linnea. He focused his investigation on human sex trafficking. KlaasKids assisted this effort by monitoring known websites that advertise escort and erotic services up and down the West Coast, but nothing of consequence turned up. Despite no real evidence that she was involved in the trafficking trade valuable weeks were devoted to that singular scenario. Finally, the family let the private investigator go and eventually asked the KlaasKids Foundation to conduct a search of Linnea.
Linnea’s family runs a Christian kids adventure camp near Sacramento. She has grown up among the pristine hills, canyons, valleys, and rivers of Northern California’s Sierra foothills. She was raised near in and around nature, and has a very strong sense of natural surroundings and the environment. She would not leave an orange peel at a camp site out of a concern that the next camper might be offended.
This past Friday, Saturday and Sunday KlaasKids sent 230 search volunteers on 40-search assignments. Search volunteers were a combination of family, friends, others drawn from the faith based community, complete strangers, and KlaasKids friends from the Bay Area. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was in the high 80-90’s range. We focused the search on the American River for two reasons. It was near the mental health facility that she was last seen at, and she was familiar with and loved the American River. It almost always makes sense to focus a search near the last place the victim was last seen.
On Sunday afternoon one of the search teams found it. Linnea’s notebook, the one she was holding when last seen was there…in the bushes only two blocks away from the mental health facility. It was near a foot path heading toward the river. It seemed to have been flung into the bushes. Our team leader contacted the search center and the authorities. Linnea’s father confirmed the sighting. Now the evidence needs to be processed.
Fifty-four days after she disappeared we have developed our first solid lead. We believe that Linnea tossed her notebook into the bushes. Much can be read into that, but it is not my place to do so. What I do feel comfortable pointing out is that in the past five months we have sent out somewhere in the neighborhood of 9,000 volunteers on approximately 900 search assignments in and around Morgan Hill and we have not found anything relating to the disappearance of Sierra LaMar. Stay tuned for updates.