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Man arrested in case of missing California teen

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    FILE - An undated file photo shows a picture of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill, Calif. Authorities have arrested Antolin Garcia-Torres in the kidnapping and death of the Northern California teenager whose disappearance more than two months ago has prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for organized searches. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Antolin Garcia-Torres is seen in an undated photo provided by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. Authorities arrested Garcia-Torres, 21, Monday evening, May 21, 2012 in the abduction of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, a Northern California teenager who has been missing for more than two months. Garcia-Torres was responsible for LaMar's disappearance and has been booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, sheriff's officials said. (AP Photo/Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office)
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MORGAN HILL, Calif. >> A 21-year-old man in custody was linked to the kidnapping and murder of a missing teenager by DNA evidence found her bag, authorities said Tuesday.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Antolin Garcia-Torres’s DNA was found inside a bag belonging to Sierra LaMar. Smith said it appeared to be a random act of violence.

Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder and kidnapping of Sierra, whose disappearance more than two months ago prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for organized searches.

Sierra hasn’t been seen or heard from since she left her home in Morgan Hill to go to school on March 16. Authorities believe she was kidnapped while walking to a bus stop.

Smith said Garcia-Torres had been under 24-hour surveillance since March 28 and that evidence also linked him to at least one assault in March 2009.

"We believe this is the worst kind of crime, a stranger abducting a young girl," she said.

Volunteers and sheriff’s officials have searched the fields, open spaces and reservoirs near Morgan Hill since Sierra’s disappearance. The KlaasKids Foundation, founded by Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped from her Petaluma home and murdered in 1993, has been organizing volunteer searches on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Investigators found Sierra’s handbag with clothing and a cellphone along the side of the road near her home on March 17, the day after Sierra’s mother reported her missing.

 

Earlier this month, investigators located a red Volkswagen Jetta they said may have been connected to Sierra’s abduction given that surveillance cameras and witnesses put the car near the area where authorities believe she disappeared. Smith said late Monday that Garcia-Torres owns the Volkswagen.

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