(MORGAN HILL, Calif.) — Santa Clara County police said Tuesday they had been following the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Sierra LaMar since March 28, hoping he would lead them to the missing teen.
Antolin Garcia Torres, 21, was arrested Monday and booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, according to the sheriff’s department.
Police said he was not being cooperative and they are still looking for LaMar.
The girl’s mother, Marlene LaMar, made an emotional plea to Garcia-Torres and anyone who may have information about the case at a news conference Tuesday.
“Please give the information that you have to lead us to Sierra to help end this nightmare. I would like you to come forward and say where she is and end this nightmare for us as a family.” she said.
LaMar said she is holding out hope her daughter is still alive.
“Until she is found, our search is still not going to end,” she said. “As a mother, still I am hopeful because her body has not been found and that gives me hope.”
The cheerleader disappeared on March 16 on her way to a school bus. Two days later, authorities found her cellphone and Juicy brand bag containing a pair of folded jeans and a T-shirt two miles from her home.
DNA was found on several of the teen’s belongings and was run through a state database, said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith. That DNA was a match for Antolin Garcia Torres who had a submitted DNA during a felony arrest that had not been prosecuted, she said.
The discovery prompted police to follow him 24/7 starting March 28. “Public safety was our primary concern,” she said.
Smith did not say Tuesday what prompted police to end their surveillance and arrest Garcia-Torres, but on Monday after the arrest she said, “He was arrested today because this is how we thought that the arrest should be done and public safety is our number one concern. We don’t want anyone else hurt. We don’t want any more little girls taken.”
The suspect is from Morgan Hill, the same area where Sierra lived with her family and where the teen disappeared. He is the owner of the red Volkswagen Jetta that police seized on April 7.
“We have physical evidence linking Sierra to his vehicle,” Smith said Tuesday.
Garcia-Torres was arrested around 6 p.m. at the Safeway store where he works.
Divers began searching reservoirs near her home last month, but have yet to come up with a trace of the teen.
Last week’s episode of the TV program America’s Most Wanted featured LaMar’s case, and investigators have since been sorting through a series of tips and possible leads.
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