August 6, 2003     Los Gatos, California Since 1881
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Photograph by Saori Yoneda
Patricia Madrigal (left) and Virginia Castillo, cousins of Jeanine Sanchez Harms, wait for the march to begin as Leslie Sanchez (center) writes a note. More than 100 people attended last week's event, which organizers say was an upbeat change from the candlelight vigils that friends and family of the missing woman would hold during the first year after her disappearance.
Harms remembered by loved ones at march
By Linh Tat
Just hours before last week's planned march for missing Los Gatos resident Jeanine Sanchez Harms, police announced they had retrieved the rug that disappeared from her apartment two years ago.

Called the biggest breakthrough yet, the new information brought a resurgence of hope to the family and friends of the missing woman.

"We have a lot more promise than a year ago that we'll have a successful conclusion to the case. When? I can't tell you, but hopefully sooner than later," said Capt. Alana Forrest of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department.

Police are still looking for two blue-and-white striped sofa cushions and a blue slipcover that were also discovered missing from Harms' apartment. In addition, police now say they want to find the silver, round-faced watch with stretch bands that Harms had purchased from a Safeway store prior to Mother's Day in 2001.

They also want to talk to anyone who was near the 24-Hour Fitness gym on Hillsdale Avenue in San Jose between midnight and 6 a.m. on July 28, 2001—the morning after Harms disappeared.

Michael Schembri, an investigator with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office, said police do not believe Harms was at the fitness center the night of her disappearance. He declined to elaborate on how that location is related to the investigation.

Harms, 42 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen leaving the Rock Bottom Brewery in Campbell, where she had had drinks with one man. She left the bar with another male acquaintance. They returned to her apartment, where he told police he left her asleep on the couch around 12:30 a.m. Police have not named any suspects in the case.

Authorities recovered the red and blue rug in April—not long after they first announced they were looking for it—and had been awaiting lab results to confirm it belonged to Harms.

The person who came forward with the rug did so of their own accord and is "absolutely not" a suspect in the case, Forrest said.

"The rug was abandoned. They just happened to come upon it," Forrest said about how the person found and brought the rug back to their home soon after Harms vanished.

News of the rug's recovery came just hours before a march through downtown Los Gatos last week to mark the two-year anniversary of Harms' disappearance.

"I'm very happy. That pushes the investigation further," said Georgette Sanchez, Harms' mother.

"I hope we don't have to have one of these marches again next year," said Jesus Sanchez, Harms' father.

The Sanchezes say they don't believe their daughter is still alive, and police have classified the case as a homicide. At this point, the Sanchezes say they are just hoping to bring the person responsible for their daughter's disappearance to justice.

"We want to know where the remains of our daughter are. We want to know exactly what happened," Jesus said.

A $15,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of Harms' abductor.

Among the 100 or so people who came out for the march was longtime friend Doug Griffith.

"She was just one of those people who made you smile even if she was in a bad mood," he said of Harms.

Not everyone who came knew the missing woman. One person who had never met Harms woke up at 6:30 a.m. to make muffins before work so that she could pass them out to marchers.

Wearing T-shirts depicting Harms' face and carrying signs that read, "We love you and we want you back," marchers began and ended the one-mile trek through downtown Los Gatos at the civic center. Along the way, one marcher dashed across the street to hand flyers to two pedestrians while another handed a flyer to a man with his car window rolled down. Flyers were also left on the windshield of cars parked along Main Street.

Attending the march were the mayors and police chiefs of Los Gatos and Campbell.

"This is a community nightmare," Mayor Sandy Decker said at the end of the march. "Someone has a clue hidden inside they won't tell. The town of Los Gatos is asking that someone to come forward."

More information about Harms can be found at Anyone with a tip should call the Los Gatos­Monte Sereno Police Department at 408.354.8600 or its 24-hour anonymous tipline at 408.395.1101.

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