(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) — Police investigating the disappearance of California cheerleader Sierra LaMar are examining and empty handcuff box and two used condoms to determine whether they are key pieces of evidence.
“They’re going to be submitted to the crime lab for analysis and we won’t know if they’re related until we get the results back from the crime lab,” Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office’s Sgt. Jose Cardoza told ABC News Friday.
The two items were found Thursday at the dead-end of a rural road within a two-mile radius of the teen’s Morgan Hills, Calif. home, Cardoza said.
LaMar, 15, was last seen leaving the home by her mother at 6 a.m. on March 16, before she left for school. LaMar’s mother realized she was missing after she did not return home from school that day. Her school bus driver later said that the teen never got on the bus that morning.
The discovery of possible new evidence in the case came just one day after officials announced that they are now treating LaMar’s puzzling disappearance as a possible abduction.
On Wednesday, authorities announced they believe LaMar may have been abducted or kidnapped, or that she voluntarily left home, but is now being held against her will. They also suspect that the key to solving the case will come from a local source.
“That’s the leading theory, that whoever is responsible is someone from Morgan Hill or knows the area of Morgan Hill,” Cardoza said Friday.
The handcuff box and condoms were found by members of a volunteer search crew, the KlaasKids Foundation, in a location that had been searched five times before. Cardoza said they will not know until further testing whether the items were overlooked in earlier searches or had been recently placed there. The dead-end road where the items were found is said to be a popular hangout for teens.
A search of waterways, ponds and reservoirs conducted by authorities on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Morgan Hill area came up empty.
The Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office has opened a tips line that Cardoza said has so far received over 600 tips.
The possible new evidence discovered Thursday is within 1.5 miles from where searchers found LaMar’s cell phone a day after her disappearance and a bag of her clothes last week.
The cell phone was found alongside the road about a mile away from her home in the opposite direction of her bus stop. The charger for her cell phone was found in her room at home. Police said the phone looked as if it had been tossed. A forensic investigation of the phone and her computer yielded no leads.
LaMar is described as 5- feet-2 with long brown hair. Her father told ABC News she loves listening to music and was a cheerleader at her old school.
“We want you to come back home, we know you will find your way back to us,” said Marlene LaMar, Sierra LaMar’s mother, at a candlelight vigil last Friday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Cimaron Neugebauer, KUTV
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News