UPDATE: A notebook belonging to missing UC Davis student Linnea Lomax was found just off the American River Bike Trail, her family announced at a press conference this afternoon.
This was the first solid lead since her disappearance June 26, said Craig Lomax, the girl's father.
The notebook was found near the Sutter Medical Center outpatient facility on Howe Avenue where the 19-year-old Placerville woman was last seen. She was receiving treatment after having a mental breakdown while studying for finals, her father said.
The evidence has been turned over to police, but Lomax confirmed it belonged to his daughter. "I saw the handwriting on the notebook," he said. "It was Linnea's."
The notebook was found during a search by 250 volunteers over the weekend.
The KlaasKids Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding missing children, joined in the search. The Sausalito-based group was founded by Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993. "You shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel every time," Klaas said.
The foundation's Director of Search Operations Brad Dennis came from Florida to aid in the search. "We're doing a very thorough grid search," Dennis said.
"After seven weeks, we finally got a ground zero," Klaas said of Sunday's breakthrough.
Lomax said that as far as he knows, Linnea is alive. "I hope she's still alive, but I also have to believe every tip, theory and lead," he said.
The search has taken a toll on the family. In addition to Linnea, the Lomax's also have a son and daughter who are still in high school. "We're maintaining the search, but we also have to maintain life," Lomax said. "We still have to be mom and dad."
The number of rumors circulating, coupled with the time the case has dragged on, is challenging the viability of the search, Lomax said. "I'm not going to stop looking for her until I can confirm she's safe," he said at the press conference.
The family plans to organize another search Sept. 8. Anyone who wants to help or has information about the whereabouts of Linnea Lomax is asked to visit helpfindlinnea.org.
- Richard Chang
Linnea is 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighs about 100 pounds and has curly, long blond hair. She was last seen wearing green pants, a black sweat shirt with "Sweden" in red letters and flip-flops. She has no medication, wallet or phone with her.
Her parents have launched a full-scale effort to find her, asking that she communicate to them that she is safe.
Last month, the reward for the missing teen was increased to $10,000. Contrary to earlier reports of sightings of Lomax in the weeks after she left the mental health facility, today's press announcement of her disappearance says she has not been seen since she walked away from the center.
"We had some sightings that we thought were pretty good at the beginning. We've since ruled those out," said Amanda Ernst, a spokeswoman for the search effort.