Editor's note: Marc Klaas initially wrote this blog in March. It does not reflect recent developments in the Sierra LaMar case.
Yesterday was about organization, but today is all about action. It overwhelmed us like a human tsunami. A wave of volunteers descended upon the Find Sierra Search Center to help find the missing 15-year-old girl. We were optimistically prepared for 150-volunteers, based upon the bubbling cauldron of anticipation that we all detected.
However we were not prepared for 583 people to show up early on a cool, gray Tuesday morning. Are there really that many unemployed people in Morgan Hill or was something else going on? I like to think that all of these caring people had found a higher calling than a paycheck for at least this one day. Sometimes it takes the worst of humanity to inspire the best of humanity.
It was dark and raining when I left home this morning so I dressed for the weather. However, by the time I approached Morgan Hill, the sun had appeared over the horizon and the sky was somewhat overcast, but it looked like the weather was going to cooperate for at least one more day. The nearer I got to the search center the more I focused on the details: Is she in that pile of dirt, hiding in that abandoned building, somewhere on that high ridge? Is she waiting to be rescued like Elizabeth Smart, or was she trying to effect an escape like 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez succeeded in doing back in 2000.
I thought a lot about Polly on the 90-minute drive to Morgan Hill—how much hope I had at a similar stage in the search, while at the same time trying desperately to hold onto my sanity as the world I knew suddenly ceased to exist, to be replaced by a bizarro world that had no rhyme or reason.
We know so much more now than we did then, and we have so many more tools. Parents have a world of resources that simply didn’t exist in 1993; law enforcement responds more quickly and with a better understanding of the issue, yet Sierra is as invisible today as Polly was between October 1 and December 4, 1993. It infuriates me that I cannot make 2+2=4 and walk this girl into the loving arms of her family. Instead, 2+2=5, or 11, or nothing at all and Sierra is nowhere to be found.
Polly was the first missing child on the Internet, and now almost two decades later Sierra LaMar is all over the Internet. Polly’s case benefited from some technically astute minds in Northern California at a time when personal computers were just beginning to gain widespread acceptance. When they told me that a first generation flyer could be downloaded anywhere on the planet they might as well have been speaking in tongues. But being a missing child on the Internet helped Polly to become almost as well known on the East Coast as she was in Sonoma County.
Sierra LaMar is all over the Internet. Her missing poster is my Facebook profile picture. There are at least three Facebook pages dedicated to her plight and all are providing updates, pictures, story and video links. She also has her own social media accounts. Unfortunately, none have been used since shortly before she disappeared early in the morning on Friday, March 16. That a socially sophisticated teenager with more than 6,000 twitter posts would go cold turkey is an enormous red flag. That her final tweet can be traced to shortly before her disappearance helps to establish a viable timeline. Unfortunately, as far as the Internet has come and despite the fact that Facebook has become the 21st Century milk carton project, Sierra is still missing.
In 2000, 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez was kidnapped by a predator who kept her chained inside his car for three days. At an opportune moment, when the pervert left her alone in the car for a moment, Midsi grabbed the keychain that was still in the ignition and systematically went through his keys until she was able to unlock her shackles. Midsi ran, he followed. My very good friend Midsi was at the search center today, and her tormentor died in prison in 2009 after admitting to killing two other children. Midsi and her friend Davina are organizing this weekend’s Teen Brigade so that Sierra’s friends can join this unprecedented community effort to bring her home.
This afternoon Sierra’s parents announced the Sierra LaMar Fund, established to help with the costs associated with Sierra’s search and rescue efforts, and to fund a reward for information leading to Sierra’s recovery. Her dad asked the public to contribute to the fund. Contributions can be made directly to the Sierra LaMar Fund at any Chase Bank, or online at Find Sierra LaMar. Sierra’s mom expressed her gratitude for the amazing show of support.