Authorities in Santa Clara have announced that they now believe 15-year-old teenager Sierra LaMar was murdered, and have arrested the principal suspect in the case.
Santa Clara County Police said last week that evidence on the Sierra LaMar disappearance case indicates the 15-year-old high school student was randomly kidnapped and tragically murdered.
During a press conference, Laurie Smith, Santa Clara County Sheriff, said that the "direct and circumstantial" evidence led investigators to believe that Garcia kidnapped and murdered the teenager, who lived with her parents in the city of Morgan Hill in Santa Clara.
According to authorities no body has yet been found.
Garcia was arrested late Monday outside a Safeway store where he works.
"We believe this is the worst type of crime. A strange kidnapping of a young girl," said Smith.
LaMar disappeared on March 16 when she was on her way to school. She was a student at Sobrato High School, en Morgan Hill, in Santa Clara County, California.
Investigators found LaMar's cell phone a day later, and on March 18 they found her bag with her clothes neatly folded.
After a DNA study on the clothes found in the bag, Garcia was identified as a possible suspect on March 28. Garcia had previously been arrested in 2009, meaning there was a record of him on the police computer database.
Following the lead the police started a 24 hour surveillance on Garcia.
"We needed additional information. We hoped he would lead us to where Sierra was," said Smith, adding that it is unlikely that Garcia had other people helping him to commit the crime.
"At this moment, we believe that he was the only person responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Sierra. These are hard cases, convicting a homicide when the victim has not been found, but it's been done and we believe we have strong facts to believe she was murdered," said Smith.
Smith also confirmed that the suspect knew he was under surveillance. Laura Torres, mother of García, confirmed that she and her son knew that they were being monitored since two months ago.
Torres also said that her son told her, "I've never seen that lady, I've never made contact with her."
Lucero Garcia, the suspect's sister also defended him, saying, "It's not him. Honestly, I don't feel like they have enough evidence to convict him."
LaMar's family said after Garcia's arrest that they have not lost the hope that the teenager is still alive, since no body has been found yet.
"We continue praying until she is found. Our search is not over. As a mother I'm hopeful," said Marlene LaMar, mother of the teenager, who also had some words for Garcia. She asked him publicly to "please, please give us information about where Sierra is, so that this nightmare is over."
According to the State of California Department of Justice, there were 467 missing children in 2011 in Santa Clara County, 72 family or parental abductions and one abduction by a stranger in that year alone.