Sierra LaMar's Killer Was Convicted In 2017, But Her Body Still Hasn't Been Found

Sierra LaMar went missing in 2012 while on her way to school, and more than a decade after her disappearance, her body has never been found. By all accounts, LaMar was like any other 15-year-old: She was considered the class clown, her family talked about her goofy sense of humor and her winning smile, and her friends talked about her taste in music. That was all before she vanished without a trace.

Months after she went missing, the LaMar case evidence pointed authorities toward the man who they believed was responsible for her death. Even once he was behind bars, however, no trace of LaMar could be found. Now, although most have accepted the reality of Sierra LaMar's death, there is still no real closure in this tragic case, which still haunts her friends and family even after so many years.

  • Sierra LaMar's Family Reported Her Missing When She Didn't Arrive At School

    Sierra LaMar's Family Reported Her Missing When She Didn't Arrive At School
    Photo: America's Most Wanted / Lifetime

    On March 16, 2012, 15-year-old Sierra LaMar left her home in Morgan Hill, a community of around 50,000 in Santa Clara County on the outskirts of San Jose, CA. According to her mother, she was walking to a nearby bus stop on her way to Ann Sobrata High School, but she never arrived there. When LaMar's mother learned of her absence from the school's automated attendance system, she called the police. At first, her disappearance was treated as a simple missing person case.

    LaMar's English teacher later remembered keeping the teen's corner desk empty for the rest of the school year in the hope that she would be found alive. Sadly, it wasn't to be, and when LaMar's class graduated in 2014, there was an empty seat held in her honor there, too.

  • LaMar's Cell Phone And Clothes Were Found Near Her Home

    While LaMar herself remained unaccounted for, police quickly began finding traces of the young woman. She went missing Friday morning, and by Saturday, investigators had found her cell phone, which was lying by the roadside "as if tossed from a vehicle" about 2 miles from her home. The following day, they found more. Not far from where they had located the cell phone, they found a Juicy brand purse belonging to LaMar stuffed with a pair of pants, a shirt, a bra, and a pair of underwear, all neatly folded.

    Despite this, authorities were still not sure whether LaMar had simply run away from home or if there was something more sinister afoot. "There is no evidence of foul play," a spokesman from the sheriff's office initially told reporters.

  • During The Search, Volunteers Found An Empty Box Labeled 'Handcuffs'

    During The Search, Volunteers Found An Empty Box Labeled 'Handcuffs'
    Photo: America's Most Wanted / Lifetime

    The nonprofit KlaasKids Foundation began organizing volunteer searches for LaMar, drawing more than 750 participants. Searchers covered new ground, along with areas the police had already gone over, and they turned up some interesting pieces of potential evidence. Not far from where LaMar went missing, searchers found several used condoms near a box that once contained handcuffs.

    "It was a small box. It had a label on it that said 'stainless steel handcuffs,'" said Sgt. Jose Cardoza. "There are a handful of manufacturers that make them." There was, however, no immediate indication that the handcuffs or condoms had anything to do with LaMar's disappearance. "It is not uncommon for sheriff's deputies to find underage drinking and that kind of activity in that area," Cardoza also told reporters.

  • LaMar's Father Was Ruled Out As A Person Of Interest

    LaMar's Father Was Ruled Out As A Person Of Interest
    Photo: America's Most Wanted / Lifetime

    As days passed with no further sign of LaMar, a pervading sense that something untoward had occurred began to grow. "The investigation process is leading more towards an involuntary missing person case," Sgt. Jose Cardoza told reporters. "Under that umbrella is the theory that she is the victim of a kidnapping, abduction, or voluntarily went missing, and then at some point thereafter came into contact with someone and as a result is now being held against her will."

    Once the authorities began seriously investigating the possibility that LaMar was the victim of foul play, one of their first acts was to rule out her own father, Steve Wayne LaMar of nearby Fremont, CA, as a person of interest. LaMar's parents were divorced, and she lived with her mother and her mother's boyfriend in Morgan Hill. A registered sex offender, Steve LaMar seemed like a likely suspect, but authorities ruled out his involvement around the time they determined she likely didn't run away from home. "Everything was status quo at home," Sgt. Cardoza told the press.

  • DNA On LaMar's Clothing Led Investigators To 21-Year-Old Antolin Garcia-Torres

    The clothes found in LaMar's bag provided the first real break in the case. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Crime Lab determined that the clothes bore traces of someone else's DNA besides LaMar's. This trail led investigators to Antolin Garcia-Torres.

    By then 21 years old, Garcia-Torres lived in a trailer with his mother and then-pregnant girlfriend about 7 miles from the LaMar home. At the time of LaMar's disappearance, he had been just weeks shy of his 21st birthday, and the morning she went missing, security footage showed him leaving his home about 15 minutes before her disappearance. He told authorities he had gone fishing.

    His DNA was in the system because of several earlier run-ins with the law, including "felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury" and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor not more than three years his junior, all of which had occurred several years before when Garcia-Torres was between 18 and 19 years of age.

  • Garcia-Torres Was Connected To Three Other Attempted Kidnappings In 2009

    In 2009, three years before LaMar went missing, three different women were assaulted in the parking lots of the two Safeway grocery stores in Morgan Hill. In every event, a man approached them in the parking lot as they were walking to their cars, and in at least one case, he got into their car after they had already started it. In the latter event, the perpetrator used a stun gun to subdue the woman, while another time, when she drew a pocket knife in self-defense, he grabbed her wrist and held the knife to her throat. However, in all three cases, the perpetrator was frightened away before he could finish his intended crimes, and no arrests were made.

    When Garcia-Torres was arrested in connection with LaMar's disappearance, however, authorities found another clue. The perpetrator of the Safeway assaults had dropped the stun gun, and the police matched a fingerprint on the battery to Garcia-Torres, who worked at one of the Safeway stores at the time. Though none of the victims could identify Garcia-Torres as their attacker in a photo lineup, he was nonetheless charged with all three assaults at the same time that he was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Sierra LaMar.