published Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Man arrested in case of missing California teen

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MORGAN HILL, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a man in the kidnapping and death of a Northern California teenager whose disappearance more than two months ago has prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for organized searches.

Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday evening at a Safeway store in Morgan Hill, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a late Monday news conference.

"We believe we have probable cause that he committed the kidnapping and murder of Sierra LaMar," she said.

Smith told reporters that investigators have gathered "a lot of physical evidence" that ties the 21-year-old Garcia-Torres to the case, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/KiOw3c) reported.

Garcia-Torres was arrested on suspicion of murder and kidnapping. Additional information was not immediately available, but a Tuesday morning news conference was scheduled.

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

Volunteers and sheriff's officials have continuously searched the fields, open spaces and reservoirs near Morgan Hill since her 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.

Sheriff's officials have released few details about leads in the case, including what, if any, evidence they found in the car.

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