Dive Team Trains at Lake Where Sierra LaMar Murder Suspect Used to Go Fishing

By Kris Sanchez
|  Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014  |  Updated 8:55 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's Kris Sanchez shows why a Santa Clara Sheriff's Department dive team were in the water of a small lake in Morgan Hill.

NBC Bay Area's Kris Sanchez shows why a Santa Clara Sheriff's Department dive team were in the water of a small lake in Morgan Hill.

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Santa Clara County divers searched a small lake in Morgan Hill where Sierra LaMar’s accused killer used to go fishing.

Officially, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Underwater Search Team was just training. They have a new million-dollar sonar system. And while the lake is well-suited for training -- because it’s one of the few that still has water -- that may not be the only reason they’re diving there.

Six divers spent about five hours in the waters of Hidden Farm Lake on Tuesday. Unofficially, people are hoping they’re searching for Sierra LaMar.

“There are several reasons for that to be a place of interest,” Mark Garcia said.

Garcia is a private investigator working for LaMar’s parents. He says this lake is about a half-mile from where Sierra LaMar’s suspected killer’s mother lived and from where sources say Antolin Garcia Torres used to go fishing.

Sheriff’s divers have searched the lake several times, most recently on Feb. 11, the same day a grand jury indicted Garcia Torres on one count of murder and three counts of attempted kidnapping and carjacking.

“We’ve cleared that lake multiple times and we are confident that there is no evidence in that lake,” Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup said.

Stenderup said the dive team was training at Hidden Farm Lake because it is one of the few lakes in the county that has enough water for zero-visibility training without need for a boat and without the curious public interfering. Still, he said, if someone gives investigators a reason to focus on the lake again, they will do it.

“We are constantly looking for tips and we will act on them,” Stenderup said.

Almost two years after Sierra LaMar disappeared, volunteers continue to go out looking for clues every Saturday and many Thursdays.

One of the volunteer coordinators says he hopes sheriff’s investigators know more than they are telling the public.

“I hope that they are on to something and that all of our searching has not been in vain, and I hope we can bring Sierra back to her family,” Roger Nelson said.

The grand jury report has not been released to the public and might not be before Garcia Torres goes to trial.

The judge in the case scheduled a hearing for April to decide whether or not to unseal the report.

Garcia Torres is due back in court on March 3.

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