Volunteers searching for clues in the disappearance of California teenager Sierra LaMar discovered a handcuff box and used condoms about a mile from where she had likely been abducted.
The items were found Thursday afternoon by a volunteer associated with the KlaasKids Foundation, said a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Office of the Sheriff.
"We did collect [the items] as possible evidence because of the nature of the items and [because they were found] close to Sierra's mom's house," Sgt. Jose Cardoza told The Huffington Post.
The items were found at the end of Palm Avenue, which is about a mile from where Morgan Hill, Calif., resident LaMar was supposed to board the school bus the day she disappeared. The handcuff box was empty and the used condoms were found about 5 feet away, according to Cardoza.
"It was a small box. It had a label on it that said 'stainless steel handcuffs,'" Cardoza said. "There are a handful of manufacturers that make them. The [professional ones] all come in rectangular cardboard boxes as this one was [but] even some knockoff brands come in a cardboard box as well."
The location where the cuffs and condoms were found had been twice previously searched by law enforcement officials, meaning either the items had been overlooked or deposited after those searches had been conducted.
While the handcuff box might be an unusual find, Cardoza said it would not be considered out of the ordinary to find used condoms in that area.
"It is not uncommon for sheriff's deputies to find underage drinking and that kind of activity in that area," he said.
Authorities said they will not know the significance of the finds until they are examined by forensic experts. The items are, however, considered potential evidence at this point.
If the handcuffs and condoms were not "something investigators did not find important they would have left those items there," Cardoza said.
LaMar, 15, was last seen around 6 a.m. on March 16, when she left her Morgan Hill home in Santa Clara County to attend classes at Sobrato High School. The sophomore never made it to the bus or school. Her mother learned LaMar was missing when she got a message from the school's automated attendance system at 6 p.m., police said.
On March 17, authorities found Lamar's cellphone discarded along a road roughly three-quarters of a mile northwest of her mother's home. The condition of the phone indicates it may have been tossed from a vehicle, according to Cardoza.
The following day, the sheriff's office found a purse and a backpack containing clothing belonging to LaMar in a location about 2 miles in the opposite direction from her bus stop -- and a mile from where investigators recovered her cellphone.
Forensic examinations of the items have not revealed any new leads.
View photos from the Help Find Sierra Facebook page.
Sierra LaMar, 15, vanished after leaving her Morgan Hills, Calif. home on March 16 and headed for school.
Police found LaMar's cellphone on Saturday, March 17 -- the day after she was last seen. Cops said they're searching her phone records for clues.
LaMar was a cheerleader in high school before moving to a new town, Morgan Hill, with her mother in October. Her parents are divorced and police said that both were cooperating with the investigation.
Police are treating LaMar's disappearance as a missing person case. Her parents insist it's unlikely that she ran away.
LaMar is 5-feet-2-inches tall with a thin frame. She was carrying a pink and black Juicy purse when she left home.
Anyone with information about LaMar may contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office at (408) 299-2311
Deputy Peter Robinson, of the Santa Clara County Sheriff Underwater Search Unit, surveys a pond on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in Morgan Hill, Calif. The search for missing 15-year-old Northern California girl expanded on Tuesday as investigators followed new leads one month since her disappearance. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's office would not say what the new leads were in the case of Sierra LaMar, except that they came from evidence already collected. The teen was seen leaving her Morgan Hill home on March 16. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A sign with a photo of missing teen Sierra LaMar is posted at an intersection on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in Morgan Hill, Calif. The search for missing 15-year-old Northern California girl expanded on Tuesday as investigators followed new leads one month since her disappearance. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's office would not say what the new leads were in the case of Sierra LaMar, except that they came from evidence already collected. The teen was seen leaving her Morgan Hill home on March 16. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The Santa Clara County Sheriffs underwater search unit prepares to lower a zodiac into Calero Reservoir to look for clues in the disappearance of missing teenage girl Sierra LaMar Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in Morgan Hill, Calif. LaMar disappeared as she headed out for school on March 16, and her cellphone and bag were found tossed in two separate locations shortly after. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
HOLD FOR STORY: In this photo from Monday, March 26, 2012, posters bearing images of missing teen Sierra LaMar are seen at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill, Calif. LaMar disappeared as she headed out for school on March 16, and her cellphone and bag were found tossed in two separate locations shortly after. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
On Thursday, Cardoza told HuffPost that authorities suspect LaMar might have been abducted.
"The investigation process is leading more towards an involuntary missing person case. Under that umbrella is the theory that she is the victim of a kidnapping, abduction or voluntarily went missing and then at some point thereafter came into contact with someone and as a result is now being held against her will," Cardoza said.
It is too soon to tell if LaMar's disappearance is an isolated incident, Cardoza said. "We just don't know," he said. "There are a number of scenarios that may have taken place [but] the person behind her disappearance is familiar with the Morgan Hill area."
Police have no suspects and no persons of interest at this time.
Sierra LaMar is 5 feet 2 inches tall and of thin build. She has brown eyes and long, black hair. She was last seen with a Juicy brand name purse, of a black and pink design.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact investigators for the sheriff's department at 408-808-4500 or the anonymous tip line at 408-808-4431. Email tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.