Sheriff’s Investigators now believe it’s highly unlikely that Sierra LaMar ran away from home and will begin concentrating their investigative efforts on the possibility that the missing Morgan Hill teen was involuntary taken from her residence, Sgt. Jose Cardoza of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday afternoon.
“That covers [ideas that] she was possibly abducted, possibly kidnapped, or she could of went to meet someone voluntarily and during the course was taken at that time,” he said.
The changing treatment of the LaMar case is based on several factors, like interviews with Sierra’s relatives and friends, evidence located, the LaMar family’s background, as well as Sierra’s background—she doesn’t have any negative family issues or runaway history.
“Investigators have enough background info about her and are like, "'It’s not adding up, she wouldn’t run away,’” Cardoza said. “She actually made plans for that weekend and then she disappeared, so there’s no indication that she was going to run away.”
Police are urging South County residents to focus their efforts on Morgan Hill, reasoning that a possible suspect would likely have been familiar with the area and community, even if they currently don’t reside there.
“The investigators’ logic is that whether or not she’s still in the Morgan Hill or Fremont area, it’s obvious she disappeared from home, so at this point the involuntary aspect that they’re now starting to explore originates in Morgan Hill,” Cardoza said.
Community members are being asked to report suspicious activity observed from neighbors, co-workers and others. People to keep an eye out for include those who have recently changed their appearance, taken interest in the case or who have purposely avoided the case. People calling in sick or who have recently cleaned their vehicle in an excessive manner are also of interest.
Although there’s no new evidence or new significant information, Cardoza said additional evidence could be uncovered from the clothing in Sierra’s Juicy bag that was located on Sunday. Authorities announced Wednesday that a pair of pants and a shirt were found neatly folded in the teen’s bag.
“We had to confirm through Sierra’s family that it was in fact her clothes. We had to do some additional forensic testing. Some investigative steps have to take place before we could make that information public," he said.
The Juicy bag and clothing were sent to the county’s crime lab for further forensic testing, which will include examinations for DNA, visible prints and any additional traces of evidence that may have come across Sierra’s clothing, like hair fibers. Crime lab results aren’t expected to be released for a while because of the number of items sent to the lab and the time it takes to properly examine them.
Detectives haven’t been able to confirm whether the clothes found in Sierra’s bag on March 18 are the same items worn the day she went missing. However, Cardoza said a Twitter photo tweeted the day of Sierra’s disappearance depicts the teen wearing a black shirt that appears similar to the one located in her bag.
“The shirt resembles the shirt she tweeted the Friday she went missing at 6:29 a.m., but we can’t confirm that’s the same shirt,” he said. “Even if she sent that picture we don’t know if it was from that time. It could have been a prior picture that she had on her phone for whatever reason.”
As of now the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have any new searches for Sierra planned, but Cardoza said that could change at any time.
“There have been no new significant developments—we need as many tips and leads as we can to come in,” he said.
Tipsters are asked to contact sheriff's investigators at (408) 808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 808-4431. Tips can also be relayed via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.