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Local & State News

Published Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2002, in the San Jose Mercury News

No new clues emerge in case of missing Los Gatos woman

BY CONNIE SKIPITARES
Mercury News

Six months after the disappearance of Jeanine Sanchez Harms of Los Gatos, police still are trying to determine what happened to the 42-year-old woman who vanished on the night of July 27 after a date in Campbell.

After extensively searching parks and creeks in the Los Gatos area and interviewing dozens of people, Los Gatos police recently turned to fellow homicide detectives at the San Jose Police Department and crime analysts at the Department of Justice in Sacramento for help.

For now, though, there are no new breaks in the case.

The strategy of asking other investigators to take a fresh look at a case is not unusual. Police agencies often ask each other for help in solving crimes. Homicide detectives from throughout Santa Clara County, for instance, meet on a monthly basis to exchange information about their cases and offer advice and strategy to each other.

Last month, two San Jose homicide detectives spent two weeks poring over evidence in the Harms case and interviewing several people who knew the Amdahl employee and others who spent July 27 at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Campbell, where Harms spent several hours before leaving with a date.

`Fresh perspective'

``It's a way to bring a fresh perspective to the case,'' said Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police Sgt. Kerry Harris. ``We don't want to leave any stone unturned. It makes good sense to use any resource we can.''

San Jose police say helping other departments makes sense since San Jose is the largest police agency in the area and has the highest number of homicides. Its detectives can offer broader expertise, said Lt. Glenn McCourtie, head of the department's homicide unit.

The San Jose detectives' probe so far has not uncovered any new information in the Harms case, but Los Gatos police say they are still waiting to hear from analysts at the Department of Justice, who are developing a profile of the person who may be responsible for her disappearance.

Los Gatos police say they have one homicide detective working full time on the Harms case and consider it an ``active investigation.''

Harms vanished from her Los Gatos duplex late in the night of July 27 or early the next morning after parting with a man she'd met at the Campbell brewery. Earlier that night, she'd arranged to meet another man at the restaurant, but ended up leaving with the second man.

That man told detectives he last saw Harms half-asleep on her sofa and that she appeared to be fine. Police say there were no signs of a struggle in or around the duplex on a quiet street near Los Gatos Boulevard.

Police, using warrants, have searched the homes of both men, but have not connected either to Harms' disappearance. Both initially were questioned by police, but they subsequently refused to answer additional questions. The Mercury News is not naming them because they are not suspects.

Parents' campaign

Meanwhile, Harms' parents, who acknowledged last year they believe their daughter is dead, are doing everything they can, including passing out fliers and meeting monthly with volunteers, to keep the case alive. They've already gotten the TV series ``America's Most Wanted'' to air a segment on Harms and have asked ``Unsolved Mysteries'' to do the same.

``We're a little discouraged, but we're not giving up,'' said Georgette Sanchez. ``We're not going to stop until we find her.''


Contact Connie Skipitares at cskipitares@sjmercury.com or (408) 920-5647.

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