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Missing California teenager Sierra LaMar is likely dead, and a local man has been arrested for her kidnapping and murder, investigators announced Tuesday.
LaMar, 15, of Morgan Hill, Calif., disappeared on her way to school March 16. Her bookbag and some clothing were found two days later. Hundreds of volunteers joined her family's search for the missing teenager to no avail.
Investigators now believe LaMar's disappearance was a stranger abduction, the "worst type of crime," Sheriff Laurie Smith said told the San Jose Mercury News.
Sheriff's deputies arrested Antolin Garcia-Torres, 21, on Monday night at a Morgan Hill supermarket where he used to work. Garcia-Torres faces charges of kidnapping and murder, though Sierra LaMar's body has not been found.
Investigators focused on Garcia-Torres after his DNA was found in LaMar's bookbag, and after announcing a red Volkswagen Jetta could be connected to her kidnapping. Garcia-Torres is the car's owner, CNN reports.
Antolin Garcia-Torres faces charges of kidnapping and murder in Sierra LaMar's disappearance, though the degree of murder has not yet been revealed.
In California, if a death occurs during the commission of a violent felony like a kidnapping, it can fall under a legal concept called "felony murder." A defendant in such a case can be charged with first-degree murder, even if the kidnapping victim's death was an accident.
In addition to Sierra LaMar's disappearance, evidence also links Antolin Garcia-Torres to a separate assault that occurred in 2009, CNN reports. Garcia-Torres may eventually also face charges in that case.
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