Saturday marks Sierra LaMar's 1-year anniversary

March 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Saturday marks a grim anniversary for a Morgan Hill family. High school student Sierra LaMar vanished on her way to school on March 16, 2012. Despite countless searches by law enforcement and volunteers, there is still no sign of Sierra.

Family and friends are planning a special event in Morgan Hill and in Fremont.

Burnett Elementary School has become the Sierra LaMar Search Center and on Saturday they will have a balloon release to mark the tragic anniversary of the 15-year-old's disappearance.

Steve LaMar, Sierra's father, and a few volunteers spent Friday afternoon getting ready for a news conference on Saturday. For the whole LaMar family, the last year has been rough.

"Missing Sierra, the frustration, not knowing what happened to her and that part has made it a long year," said Steve.

Sierra was supposed to catch a bus to school at the intersection of Palm Avenue and Dougherty Avenue. Sierra's mother, Marlene, noticed the teen was missing when she didn't come home from school that afternoon.

"We checked Marlene's email again and saw a message from the school that she was absent that day. She shouldn't have been absent, that was weird. So at that point, we called the sheriff's department," said Steve.

Very quickly a full-fledged search was launched with dozens of people turning out in teams to comb the area. In a field just yards from her school bus stop her clothes were found, folded neatly in bag, but she remains missing.

"I don't think any of us ever thought for a moment that we would be in this position now, and the tragedy of it all is, one of the tragedies is that there is somebody that knows the answers, that can end this right now," said Marc Klaas from the Klaas Kids Foundation.

In May, 21-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested and charged in LaMar's abduction and murder. Still, her father says he's holding out hope that she's found alive.

"We've got a suspect. The sheriff's department says it's a homicide. As a parent I'm not going to believe that until I know that for sure," said Steve.

This is a case that is still has a lot of public attention. In fact, there are teams of about 30-40 people who still turn out every Saturday to go out on daylong searches.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department told us Friday afternoon, they are still getting between 15-20 tips every week and some of those calls come from across the country.

Balloons will be released at the Sierra LaMar Search Center on Tilton Road at 9 a.m. A fundraiser will be held in Fremont starting at 1 p.m. The fundraiser will feature a Print-a-Thon by the KlaasKids Foundation, live music, bounce houses, face painting and hula dancers.

Morgan Hill location:
Sierra LaMar Search Center
85 Tilton Road
Morgan Hill, CA

Fremont location:
Community awareness and fundraising event
1-5 p.m.
37270 Niles Boulevard
Fremont, CA


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