Sierra LaMar verdict comes as relief for volunteers who searched for teen

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- News of a guilty verdict in the Sierra LaMar case came as a huge relief for hundreds of volunteers who searched for the teenager. It was extremely emotional for the residents of Morgan Hill, where Sierra attended high school before she disappeared.

Nearly everybody in Morgan Hill knows the name Sierra LaMar, even though they didn't personally know her. She became known as everyone's daughter, which is why Tuesday's verdict hit home.

RELATED: Jury says Antolin Garcia-Torres is guilty in Sierra LaMar case

As people filed out of the main courthouse in San Jose, there were many hugs. Search volunteer Doug Tollis, in particular, was overcome with emotion after he heard Antolin Garcia-Torres was found guilty of murdering Sierra.

"We were all holding our hands inside there and God answered the questions, answered our wishes, our prayers," Tollis said.

Tollis and many other volunteers spent countless weekends searching for Sierra's remains in the last five years. Many of them didn't know the LaMar family, but felt they had to do something.

More than 1,100 searches were conducted, all while Garcia-Torres kept quiet behind bars.

To finally have a guilty verdict "was a combination of thrill and relief," said volunteer Roger Nelson.

TIMELINE: Sierra LaMar kidnapping, murder case

"Just hearing the stories from day one, being a dad myself, and having a daughter. All of those emotions come out in you, and you just hope the jury comes to the right conclusion, which I believe they did," San Jose resident Todd Courtney said.

Sierra's disappearance shook Morgan Hill. Her photograph was plastered all over the small city.

While those are gone now, no one here has forgotten. "I'm just glad that they brought him to justice. I'm glad that they found him. I was worried they weren't going to and that the family wouldn't have any closure," Morgan Hill resident Noelle Davis said.

Volunteers say they won't stop searching. They plan on using the information they learned from the trial to go back out and look for Sierra's remains.

VIDEO: Sierra LaMar's family speaks after verdict announced
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The family of missing Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar spoke outside the Santa Clara County Courthouse after a guilty verdict was announced for the man charged in her kidnapping and murder.

Click here for full coverage on the Sierra LaMar verdict.
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