A Juicy-brand bag belonging to Sierra Lamar, the 15-year-old Morgan Hill girl who went missing on Friday, was found on the side of a roadway about 2 miles from her home, a sheriff's spokesman announced this morning.
The bag was located by the sheriff's office at about 1 p.m. Sunday near Laguna Avenue and Santa Teresa Boulevard, Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. Jose Cardoza said at a morning news conference.
Inside the bag, investigators found a pair of pants and a T-shirt, both "neatly folded," Cardoza said. It has been confirmed that the clothing and purse belong to Sierra, he said. When Sierra disappeared, authorities said they believed she was carrying a Juicy pink-and-black purse.
Cardoza said the sheriff's office waited to release the information until investigators were sure the items belong to the missing teen.
Sierra left home for school on Friday morning, but never showed up to class. Her cellphone was found 20-30 feet off the roadway near Santa Teresa Boulevard and Scheller Avenue, a couple of blocks from where her bag was later located.
The phone was examined for fingerprints but no new leads were found. Cardoza said Sierra's last text on her cellphone was sent from her home a few minutes after 7 a.m. Friday. It was sent to a friend and did not indicate that she was in any distress, he said.
He said that since no one saw Sierra leave home that day, it has not been confirmed whether she was wearing the clothes found in her purse or whether she had brought extra clothing with her.
Members of the sheriff's volunteer search-and-rescue team are heading out today with K-9 units to scour locations within a 3-mile radius of Sierra's home, including fields, backyards, waterways and cul-de-sacs, Cardoza said.
They are looking for "clothing, weapons, tire tracks, anything suspicious," Cardoza said.
He said today's search will be more "extensive, thorough and specific" than previous searches. Cardoza said there is still no hard evidence that foul play was involved in the disappearance and the sheriff's office has not identified any persons of interest in the case.
He said Sierra has a "very good relationship" with her mother, her mother's boyfriend and her father, who lives in Fremont, and there is no indication she is a runaway.
"We're really concerned," he said. "We're obviously still out here with a lot of concentrated efforts, a lot of our personnel ... we've been working this case 24/7 since Friday evening."
He said the FBI is involved in the investigation but declined to say in what capacity. Investigators have contacted registered sex offenders within a 10-mile radius of Sierra's home and are now expanding their efforts to include all of southern Santa Clara County.
Sheriff's officials said Wednesday they have interviewed more than 100 people in the case, 50 of them students at Ann Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill and Washington High School in Fremont, where Sierra was previously enrolled.
At a candlelight vigil held Tuesday night at the Morgan Hill Presbyterian Church, friends and family members tearfully called for Sierra's safe return.
Community members have been helping distribute fliers containing Sierra's photo and description. Anyone with information about Sierra or her whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at (408) 808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 808-4431. Tips can also be emailed to email@example.com
—Bay City News