New Lead in Sierra Lamar Case Sends Divers Searching South Bay Lake
A Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office dive team returned to a South Bay lake Thursday, combing the waters for evidence in the case of Sierra Lamar, the 15-year-old girl who vanished while on her way to school two years ago.
NBC News spotted the divers supposedly training at the lake, but sources close to the investigation later told the news station that the divers were actually there looking for evidence in that murder case after potentially new leads had surfaced. They were reportedly equipped with new powerful sonar that allows them to better locate bodies in murky waters.
NBC News wouldn't reveal the location of the lake so as to not hurt the investigation. The same undisclosed sources also told the news station that this was the second time divers had gone out to this particular lake, which they described as a "high interest" to investigators.
LaMar, a Sobrato High School sophomore, disappeared on March 16, 2012 while on her way to school. Authorities later found her cellphone and Juicy backpack strewn on the roadway -- in the opposite direction of her school bus stop. They later concluded that LaMar had been kidnapped and murdered, although they had not yet found her body or a suspect.
In May 2012, they arrested Antolin Garcia Torres, a 24-year-old Safeway employee, on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering the teen. Police say they found traces of his DNA on LaMar's clothing that was found in the backpack on the side of the road. They also found traces of her DNA inside his red Jetta. Garcia Torres has yet to enter a plea. He's due back to court on March 3.
Legal analyst Steven Clark told NBC News that a murder conviction without a body is extremely difficult.
"It is critical to the prosecution because as long as Sierra's body is not found, the defense is going to say this is a missing persons case," Clark said. "This investigation has been ongoing since the beginning. That will continue until Sierra's body is found or until the trial is concluded."