I never expected that we would hit this milestone: Sierra LaMar has been missing for a year! That means that her family has endured four seasons of not knowing where their beautiful daughter/sister is. Their Saturday morning ritual has become routine. Get up very early, put on your best face, grab a mug of coffee, drive to Morgan Hill and hope that when you turn into the Sierra Search Center yours isn’t the only car in the parking lot. To date those specific fears have not been realized, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty left to be fearful of. Marlene LaMar recently told me that, “It has been a long journey, and the most difficult thing is not having the answers which makes waiting feel infinite. The loss and pain has been indescribable.”
Last year hundreds of strangers came together to look for a teenaged girl who disappeared while walking to the school bus early on a foggy, wet and windy Friday morning. Last Saturday, a community of about fifty friends gathered for Morning Prayer as they have been doing virtually every week for a year. They stood in a circle, heads bowed and hands held as the Lord’s name was invoked and his guidance was sought. It was a touching sight, profound in its determination and its loyalty.
Two-hundred-ninety-eight days ago Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sierra. His DNA was discovered on items that Sierra had with her when she disappeared, and her DNA was found inside his car, but he told the authorities that he had never met the young girl. One-hundred-twenty-one days ago Torres-Garcia was further charged with three separate charges of kidnapping women during the commission of a carjacking. He has yet to enter a plea on any of the charges.
Torres-Garcia holds the truth that so many desperately want to know, and he turns his back on common decency. Since he invoked his right to be represented by a lawyer, the authorities don’t question him. Because he is so despised by the other inmates at the Santa Clara County Jail, he is held in protective custody. There is nothing like staring your own mortality in the face, so I believe that the prospect of the death penalty might finally bring the truth forward. Nothing else has worked.
Tomorrow morning the public and media will join Sierra’s family and the search volunteers at the Search Center which is located at 85 Tilton Ave., Morgan Hill. There will be a press conference at 9:00 a.m., followed by a balloon release. Then searchers will be dispatched to look for signs of Sierra. I expect the mood to be as hopeful as the day is beautiful. The trouble is that with this case storm clouds are never far off the horizon.