Family on edge over
MISSING WOMAN'S PARENTS ANXIOUS
WHILE HUMAN REMAINS TESTED
Not a day goes by that Jess and Georgette Sanchez don't think
about their daughter, Jeanine Harms, the 42-year-old Los Gatos woman
who disappeared nearly six years ago.
``We talk about her every day, about all kinds of things we
remember about her,'' said Jess Sanchez, 79, of Campbell.
But this week, as news surfaced that a collection of human bones
was discovered in the Santa Cruz Mountains, their conversations
turned into anxiety. The nervous parents once again face the
possibility that the remains could be those of Harms.
The anxious waiting isn't new. Several times over the years, the
remote woods of the Santa Cruz Mountains have yielded human remains.
Each time, the tormented parents steel themselves. Each time, they
hope it is Harms so they can have closure. But they also are
terrified about facing her death.
``Every time we hear about remains being found we don't know if
we should be glad or sad,'' Jess Sanchez said. ``We have always
hoped that before we die that her remains are found so we can bury
Harms, an employee at Sunnyvale's Fujitsu, disappeared in July
2001 after a late-night date with Campbell architect Maurice Xavier
Nasmeh, whom she had just met that night. Police say he was the last
person to see her alive at her Los Gatos duplex. Nasmeh was arrested
more than three years later and charged with her murder, despite the
absence of a body.
The 6th District Court of Appeal will hear arguments this month
over whether police overstepped a warrant to search Nasmeh's car,
which yielded critical evidence. Nasmeh has been in Santa Clara
County Jail without bail since his December 2004 arrest.
ID to take time
The Sanchezes' phone has been ringing constantly this week with
calls from family and friends asking about the discovery of several
dozen bones -- part of an adult torso along a steep, wooded ravine
near Bear Creek Road. The Santa Clara County coroner's office and
sheriff's department says it's far too soon to make a positive
identification. That could take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a
couple of months, according to sheriff's Sgt. Ed Wise.
``Every time the phone rings now I jump a little,'' Georgette
Sanchez said. ``I don't know what kind of news it's going to
Sanchez said she had a hard time sleeping Tuesday night.
``Everything was running through my head. We went to bed with the 11
o'clock news, then we got up at 5 a.m. on Wednesday to see if there
was anything new.''
So far the only description of the bones is that they are of a
small-framed person, although not a child. Age and gender are not
known. Harms was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed about 120
Other missing woman
Deborah Modafferi, the mother of 18-year-old Kristen Modafferi,
who disappeared almost 10 years ago in San Francisco, says she tries
not to get worked up over news of remains found in the Bay Area.
``This has happened a number of times,'' said Modafferi, who
lives in Charlotte, N.C. ``We don't overreact. We don't allow
ourselves to overreact, not until we hear some real news.''
Kristen Modafferi, a student at the University of
California-Berkeley, vanished one afternoon in 1997 after leaving
her summer job at a San Francisco coffee shop.
The Sanchezes say that as difficult as it is, they have no choice
but to wait for the results of DNA tests that authorities hope will
identify the bones. They are trying to prepare for the idea that
their wait could finally end.
``We've lived with this so long now,'' said Jess Sanchez, a quiet
former high school principal. ``We just have to cope. We have no
Contact Connie Skipitares at
cskipitares@mercurynews. com or (408) 920-5647.