George Kiriyama reports from Morgan Hill on the anniversary of the disappearance of Sierra LaMar and a small group of strangers who refuse to give up looking for her.
One year after her 15-year-old daughter went missing, Marlene LaMar still holds out hope that somewhere, her dark-haired, bright-eyed Sierra is still out there.
But she tears up just thinking about how lonely she's been without her bubbly teen, especially thinking about that had Sierra not been abducted March 16 on her way to school in Morgan Hill, she would have been helping her buy a prom dress.
"It would have been her junior year," LaMar told NBC Bay Area in an interview. "The time she'd be going to junior prom. I feel bad I won't be able to share that with her."
She added: "She has a good soul. She is an amazing young woman a parent would be proud of. She didn't deserve it."
Both LaMar and her ex-husband, Steve LaMar, who have been giving interviews this week on the heartbreaking milestone of their daughter's yearlong disappearance, won't let themselves believe that their spunky teen is gone forever.
"As a parent, " Steve LaMar said, "I'm not going to let go that she's still alive."
To remember their daughter's actual one-year anniversary, the crew of volunteers who still continue to search for Sierra did what they always do on Saturday. They came to the search center in Morgan Hill and they hit the trails, fields and hills of the area in a continued search for clues.
They also held two special events: A balloon release in Morgan Hill (photo below) and a fundraiser in Fremont. For more details, click on findsierralamar.com.
You can hear from Sierra's parents and Marc Klaas in the below raw video clip:
The group hopes to raise money and awareness to prevent more child abductions and continue search efforts until Sierra's whereabouts are known.
Police and prosecutors, however, presume the teen is dead, and they've charged 21-year-old Antolin Garcia Torres with her abduction and murder. He had additionally been charged with three separate attempted kidnappings of other women, all in March 2009.
While Sierra's body has never been found, her clothes, purse and cellphone were discovered days after her disappearance tossed into two fields nearby. Garcia Torres' DNA was found on her clothing, authorities say, and her DNA was found in his Volkswagen Jetta.
Garcia Torres has yet to enter a guilty plea and is scheduled to return to court on April 4.
The long delay in the legal system, and the fact that Marlene LaMar believes Garcia Torres knows what last happened to her daughter, are extremely frustrating.
"I can't understand how the legal system would let this happen to a victim's family for so long," Marlene LaMar said early Friday morning.
One attorney, Steven Clark, explained that the legal system, especially in cases of homicide, take a long time. Clark said the delay in prosecution could actually play to the prosecution's advantage.
“Finding the body is very critical to the case..Time is on the side of the prosecution to make the case stronger," Clark said.
Clark said it is still consider a very active investigation. Every time there is a new tip or there is a new search, then that information has to be transmitted to the defense, Clark said, which is just one reason why it seems like the case is taking so long.
NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro contributed to this report.