Pleasanton resident Marie Rankin spends most of her Saturdays out searching.
Rankin, a petite, soft-spoken mother, has been searching for missing teen Sierra LaMar since the end of June. LaMar, a Fremont native, was abducted on the morning of March 16 near her home in Morgan Hill.
Rankin joined the search for LaMar soon after the recovery of Pleasanton's Jane Doe, who had been found in a trash can on Dublin Canyon Road, in May.
The woman was identified months later as Ana Flores-Pineda of Stockton, but during the initial recovery of the body, some believed the victim could have been LaMar. It was quickly determined that she was not LaMar.
Rankin was assigned to help at the Dublin Canyon crime scene and said she believes that triggered her desire to start searching for LaMar. Rankin says that sometimes people hear about these cases and don't think there is anything they can do to help. But in the case of LaMar, Rankin believes we can.
"I felt myself deeply angry [about the abduction]," Rankin said. "Going to the search center...I did not know if there was anything I had to offer. When you are there, her family is there, and you feel like you are helping to give something to them."
Rankin, who works from home, says she attends the searches every Saturday that she's available. She says the best way to explain her drive to search is that she feels a calling.
"Something inside, telling you that you need to," she said. "I felt I needed to act."
Rankin says when she a teenager growing up in Fremont she was walking to school for a half-day when a Fremont Police officer stopped to ask why she was not in school. They then gave her a ride to school because officers were concerned for her safety. They had just discovered the remains of 14-year-old Kelly Poppleton, who had been found dismembered after being abducted in the early 80s.
"That was the first time in my life I realized someone might want to take a kid," she commented. "We didn't have Klaas Kids or Amber Alerts back then."
Rankin says the volunteers all arrive at the search center at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill on Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. to check-in. Volunteers are divided into groups after an opening prayer, given a briefing and then sent out to search.
Read the entire report of this volunteer's perspective of the search for missing teen Sierra LaMar on Pleasanton Patch by clicking here.
Follow the LaMar updates on Facebook. The search center is located at Burnett Elementary School at 85 Tilton Avenue in Morgan Hill.
Email TIPS@SHERIFF.SCCGOV.ORG to report tips to law enforcement via email.
Contact Crime Stoppers International – Silicon Valley to report tips to the Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website, an "an average of 2,185 children reported missing each day or over 800,000 children each year."