The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is enlisting the help of a special task force dealing with high-tech crimes to find the individuals responsible for the two posts believed to be sent from Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar’s Facebook account late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
Detectives reached out to the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team Task Force (REACT) Tuesday morning because they’re tired of people interfering with the investigation by posting messages claiming to be from the missing teen. LaMar has been missing for over three months and detectives believe she was kidnapped by Antolin Garcia-Torres, who is currently being tried for her murder.
“Our detectives reached out to them primarily because this is enough already with these hackers and these persons doing these online hoaxes,” Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jose Cardoza said. “It’s happened a number of times and we really want to prevent this activity from happening again.”
Cardoza said LaMar’s social media accounts were being hacked “at least once or twice a week during the first month” of her disappearance. Although the rate of recurrence has declined, fraudulent posts continue to happen, as exemplified in .
Monday’s post depicts an Instagram photo from a Facebook user with LaMar’s name and photo stating, “please call the police he’s coming back," along with an address for a home in Saratoga. In Tuesday’s photo the user identifies a man as her captor and requests that "someone call Breanna please" and continues to read "please someone call I have to go before he gets back..omg please."
Detectives don’t know if the two recent incidents are connected, who the involved individuals are or whether LaMar’s account was hacked or cloned.
“It is a possibility that there was a cloned account created, but it’s something the task force will look into,” Cardoza said.
The district attorney’s office, which oversees the task force, confirmed that REACT members are investigating the posts, but didn’t have any specific details available as of Tuesday afternoon.
Cardoza said the goal is to locate the person or persons responsible for the two Facebook posts so they can file the appropriate cases with the district attorney’s office.
Impersonating someone through a social media website is a misdemeanor under California penal code 528.5. General misdemeanors usually carry a punishment of no more than six months in jail or a fine of one thousand dollars, but Cardoza said he doesn’t know if the incidents would qualify as a general misdemeanor.
Detectives have followed-up on every incident involving online impersonators in the LaMar case, and have yet to identify any suspects. The investigations, including the , remain ongoing, Cardoza said.
Patch editors Nika Megino and Zoneil Maharaj contributed to this article.
For previous coverage of the Sierra LaMar case, refer to the Sierra LaMar Disappearance: Comprehensive Updates and Information page on Gilroy Patch.