Do you have a blue-and-red Persian rug with white fringe
purchased from a Home Express furniture store? If so, police would
like to borrow it to aid an investigation into one of the South
Bay's most baffling homicide cases.
Jeanine Sanchez Harms of Los Gatos was 42 when she disappeared in
July 2001 after a night out with friends in Campbell. The last
person known to have seen her alive, a male acquaintance, said he
left her apartment as she fell asleep on a sofa.
Three days later, when police helped worried friends and
relatives searching for Harms break into her apartment, she wasn't
there. Nor were the sofa's cushions and slipcover and the rug in
front of the sofa.
Police never found Harms or the cushions, slipcover and rug. Now
they are asking for the public's help in locating a rug of the same
color, design and size -- 5-by-7 feet.
Both police and the district attorney's office declined to
discuss why they want the rug, leaving Harms' friends to speculate
on the latest development in the 20-month-old case.
``It sounds to me like they may want to do some kind of fiber
comparison,'' said Harms' friend Janice Burnham.
The request comes three months after police turned over evidence
collected on the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's
Office, hoping its lawyers could provide further guidance on how to
proceed with the investigation.
Harms received the rug as a gift from a friend, Chigiy Binell,
who had bought it in 1997 from the Home Express in the Westgate Mall
in San Jose just before the chain went out of business.
Binell gave the rug first to her mother and then to Harms after
Binell's mother died in 2001.
Harms was with two men the night she disappeared, but police have
not named either as a suspect, so the Mercury News is not naming
One of the two men was the last person known to see her alive;
the other met her for a date earlier the same evening.
Police have been investigating Harms' case as a homicide,
believing almost from the day she was reported missing that she was
a victim of violence.
Jeanette Sanchez, Harms' mother, hopes someone will turn in an
identical rug to the one missing from her daughter's apartment, and
it will somehow lead police to Harms' killer.
``It will be a type of closure but it's not what we hoped for,''
If your rug is a match, the Los Gatos-Monte Serano police asks
you to call detective Steve Walpole at (408) 354-6825.