Sheriff: Sierra LaMar's Murder was 'Purely Random'

The man arrested in connection with her kidnapping and death also is suspected of assaulting a woman in Morgan Hill three years ago.

More than two months after Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar disappeared, investigators said Tuesday the 15-year-old is dead.

"We have adequate facts, we have strong facts to believe she has been murdered," Santa Clara County Sheriff Lori Smith said.

Antolin Garcia-Torres, 21, was arrested for the girl's kidnapping and murder Monday night in Morgan Hill.

"It's my belief this was purely random," Smith said. "It was an absolute stranger abduction ... We believe this is the worst kind of crime: a stranger abduction of a young girl."

Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday at the Morgan Hill Safeway, where he worked previously. He is currently unemployed. Although it was initially reported he lives in San Martin, Smith said that he is a Morgan Hill resident and has lived in the community much of his life.

He has been under surveillance for nearly two months, Smith said.

"Public safety was our primary concern," the sheriff said. 

Sierra went missing on her way to school March 16.

"Early on when our deputy first responded to a missing child report he knew this was not a runaway," said Smith, adding the deputy immediately suspected the case was a serious report.

Investigators found DNA evidence off Sierra's bag and linked it to Garcia-Torres. They linked that to Garcia-Torres on March 28—when the sheriff's surveillance began. DNA evidence was also found in his vehicle,  detectives were searching for and impounded in April, according to Smith.

Garcia-Torres has a prior misdemeanor conviction for interfering with an officer and a felony assault arrest, which was not prosecuted. Garcia-Torres is not a registered sex offender, Smith noted.

However, investigators suspect Garcia-Torres attacked at least one woman in Morgan Hill in 2009.

"There were three assaults in Morgan Hill about three years ago ... We have linked one of those to our suspect through forensic evidence," Smith said.

Smith said they were physical assaults "that were not completed." One involved a Tazer, another occurred at knife-point and during the third, the victim was able to get away by locking herself in her car. She did not say which one had been tied to Garcia-Torres.

Sierra's mother, Marlene LaMar, made an impassioned plea to Garcia-Torres: "Please give the information that you have to lead us to Sierra to help end this nightmare. I would like to you to come forward and say where she is."

The Sierra LaMar case has garnered national attention. Her story was  earlier this months and news that an arrest was made Monday flashed on news websites around the country. Tuesday morning, at least seven broadcast trucks were stationed in front of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office in San Jose for the press conference.

Sierra's family, as well as representatives from the Santa Clara County Search and Rescue Team, the state Department of Justice, the county Board of Supervisors attended the press conference Tuesday.

"As a mother, still, I'm hopeful because her body has not been found," Marlene LaMar said.

This story will be updated.

For previous coverage of the Sierra LaMar case, refer to the Sierra LaMar Disappearance: Comprehensive Updates and Information page on Gilroy Patch.

Debi May 29, 2012 at 04:44 PM
You all need to open a comment page among your selves, Did you not know this is for Sierra Lamar R.I.P, The guy did it ,He is a Mexican, Stop arguing back and forth about who is smarter than who. Got a problem with immigration? "DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT'
Tim May 29, 2012 at 06:05 PM
No, he is not a Mexican. He was born here, hence he is an "American" under our ridiculous interpretation of the 14th Amendment. We're conveniently overlooking the part of the 14th Amendment that reads "subject to the jurisdiction thereof". http://www.federalistblog.us/2007/09/revisiting_subject_to_the_jurisdiction/ In other words, if the parents were illegal aliens and should not have been here, the kid they have here would not automatically be a US citizen because the parents would have been subject to the jurisdiction of their nation of origin since they had no legal status in the US. Nut out politicians don't want to do anything with it and as Nadja provided examples with above, illegal aliens have commtied violent crimes here and then fled back across the southern border to avoid prosecution. No politician wants to do the right thing beacuse they don't want to "alienate the hispanic vote".
W May 29, 2012 at 07:20 PM
If you haven't figured it out the conservatives are helplessly trying to prove their flailing ideology. They even willing to ride the wake of others grief to enthusiastically try and make political points.
Kristin V May 30, 2012 at 07:14 PM
It's sad that the comments are all about immigration and not on the loss of a life. I pray that the family and friends of Sierra find some resolve in what has happen and can over time find some peace in their life. I know it makes me hold my children a little tighter and appreciate the blessings in my life.
Izec December 07, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I am really glad they did find the lowlife who did this, at least some form of peace can be over the family now that they caught him. This is not meant to offend or be rude but boys and girls, women and men go missing ALL the time why wasnt theyre case made a big deal also? why was this case blown up so big?


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