After two years of making little headway, Los Gatos police Monday
announced their first real break in the baffling disappearance of
Jeanine Sanchez Harms: They have recovered the rug that vanished
from her small duplex when she disappeared.
Los Gatos Police Chief Scott Seaman said someone called police in
April when the department sought the public's help in locating a
Persian-style rug with white fringe similar to the one missing from
Harms' home. Little did the police know they would come up with the
missing woman's rug, which they're hoping will provide clues to her
Lab tests have confirmed it is Harms' rug, said Seaman, who would
not give further details.
``This rug was a remarkable gift,'' Seaman said. ``This is a
critical piece of evidence. It's a breakthrough for us. We had not
expected to find that rug.''
The chief would not disclose who located the 5-by-7-foot area rug
or where it was found. He said the man who came forward had found it
shortly after Harms' disappearance nearly two years ago. The man has
no connection to Harms' disappearance, Seaman emphasized.
``This citizen is in no way involved'' with Harms, who was 42
when she disappeared, the chief said. ``We are grateful to this
The red-and-blue rug was in excellent condition when the man
found it and took it home. He used it in his house until he read the
news report. The rug now sits in the Santa Clara County crime
Seaman said authorities are interested in talking with anyone who
was in the vicinity of a 24-hour fitness center in a shopping mall
on Hillsdale and Leigh avenues in San Jose between midnight and 6
a.m. on July 28, 2001. He would not say if the rug was located
there, or give any other information.
Harms' parents said they were shocked when told about the rug by
police, just before the afternoon press conference at the Los Gatos
Civic Center. They are drawing new hope from its discovery.
``We're very encouraged,'' said Harms' father, Jesus Sanchez. The
case had pretty much hit a wall until the April call from the man
with the rug.
``I thought somebody would maybe come up with a similar rug, but
not that one,'' said Harms' mother, Georgette Sanchez. ``We
just didn't expect it. We were shocked. But we are pleased that this
will keep the case moving forward.''
The Sanchezes have acknowledged they do not believe their
daughter is still alive. The best they can hope for is to find her
remains and give her a proper burial, they said. And bring whoever
is responsible to justice.
Almost from the moment Harms disappeared, Los Gatos police have
called the case a homicide.
Monday's announcement coincided with the second anniversary of
Harms' disappearance, which was Sunday. More than 100 friends and
relatives of Harms took part in a march through downtown Los Gatos
Monday night to call attention to her case.
The march was organized by Child Quest International of Campbell.
Among those attending were the mayors and police chiefs of Los Gatos
``This is a community nightmare,'' said Los Gatos Mayor Sandy
Decker, urging anyone to come forward with information. ``Someone
out there has an answer or a clue that they aren't telling.''
Police are seeking information from the public in locating other
missing items: two blue-and-white-striped love seat cushions and a
flowered slipcover that were removed from Harms' duplex along with
They are also seeking a silver, round-faced wristwatch that Harms
wore the night of July 27, 2001, when she brought home a man she had
met at a Campbell bar. He told police he had left her place about
12:30 a.m. as she lay asleep on her sofa.
``This is the kind of case where we are relying on the media,''
Seaman said. ``This case has been very difficult and challenging. It
remains this department's top investigative priority. And I have
confidence that we will bring it to successful prosecution.''
Investigators have largely focused on the man Harms was last seen
with, and another man she met at Campbell's Rock Bottom Brewery in
the PruneYard Shopping Center.
Police have not named either as a suspect. Both were interviewed
by police after Harms disappeared; both have since hired attorneys
and refused to cooperate with authorities.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Los Gatos
police at (408) 354-6825.