Marc Klaas shines light on new child-safety technology tools, the continuing search for Sierra LaMar

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Normal Marc Klaas shines light on new child-safety technology tools, the continuing search for Sierra LaMar

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:34 pm

By Mark Emmons
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Posted: 01/03/2013 04:04:23 PM PST
Updated: 01/03/2013 04:58:24 PM PST
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MORGAN HILL -- The holiday season was difficult, Steve LaMar said quietly as he looked out at the assembled television cameras. And how could it not be? His 15-year-old daughter Sierra vanished March 16 on her way to catch a bus to school in Morgan Hill, and is presumed dead.

"It's been over nine-and-a-half months now, but we're still searching," Steve LaMar said.

On Thursday, missing-children advocate Marc Klaas helped refocus attention back to Sierra and the ongoing efforts to bring her home -- including the Saturday searches, which continue to draw 40 to 50 people each weekend.

When Klaas decided to hold a news conference to raise awareness of new technology and philanthropic initiatives to protect children and help families of missing kids, he knew the best place to stage it. That's why Klaas stood next to Steve LaMar at Burnett Elementary School in Morgan Hill, which now serves as the Find Sierra Search Center.

"This is always about the kids like Sierra," Klaas said. "It would be a dishonor to Sierra not to be here. We're still looking for her and we're not going to stop until she's been located."

Also attending were family members of other Bay Area abduction victims, as well as Midsi Sanchez, 20, who was kidnapped in Vallejo in 2000 at age 8. She was missing for three days before escaping her abductor.

"The more that Sierra's name and face is out there, the better," Sanchez said. "There's always a chance that somebody will see a story about her and that will trigger a light bulb that maybe they saw something that could help. Anything that shines more light on Sierra is a good thing."

Antolin Garcia Torres, who was arrested May 21 and charged with killing Sierra, is behind bars at the Santa Clara County Jail. Garcia Torres, who has not yet entered a plea, is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 6.
"Lately Sierra has been out of the news unless there's court appearances and things like that," Steve LaMar said. "But we're trying to keep this about Sierra and not about that part of it. We want to make sure that people are thinking about her."

Thursday also would have marked the 32nd birthday of Polly Klaas, who was abducted and murdered in Petaluma in 1993. That tragedy led to the creation of the KlaasKids Foundation, and Marc Klaas commemorated his daughter's birthday by announcing partnerships with several technology-based child-safety ventures.

"None of these technologies can help a child like Sierra, who is already missing," Klaas said. "But these are about prevention."

Some of the technologies include:
Cocoon for KlaasKids. The free online browser is designed to prevent others from tracking and contacting your kids on the Internet.

"The idea is to make sure that our children can safely use the Internet by blocking the child's identity, IP address and location," said Vernon Irvin, CEO and president of Virtual World Computing. "And the only sites your kids can go to are the ones that parents allow. This product basically gives control back to parents."

Polly's Guardian Angel. This is a smartphone application that serves as a missing-child alert system. Parents can report their child as missing and anyone with the app will receive a virtual missing-child poster on their phone.

It's already available on the iPhone for $4.99 and an Android version should be released later this month.
"I think more than parents will want this," Klaas said. "When kids go missing, people want to help. That's demonstrated in the fact that more than 11,000 people have searched for Sierra."

LEO Wristwatch. This is a GPS child locator with a titanium wristband that can be locked.
"It's a game changer because it's also a programmable cellphone," Klaas said. "This provides parents 24-7 connectivity to their kids. This is Dick Tracy come to fruition."

The watch, a product of Marina del Rey-based Guardian Lion Wireless, will be available in the spring.
Klaas also announced the Klaas Family Housing Fund, which will assist families of missing children with housing costs.

"When something like this happens to your family, you don't even think about trying to pay bills," Klaas said.

Steve LaMar said he sees value in the technology tools to help find missing kids.

"Hopefully these will prevent other families from going through what we've gone through," he said.

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Normal Re: Marc Klaas shines light on new child-safety technology tools, the continuing search for Sierra LaMar

Post by Wrapitup on Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:40 pm

KlaasKids Foundation unveils child protection tools

Updated at 05:57 PM today

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- In Morgan Hill Thursday, families of missing or murdered children announced that new high-tech tools are now available when children go missing. Thursday was the birthday of kidnap and murder victim Polly Klaas of Petaluma. She died at the age of 10 and would have turned 32 Thursday.

Technology has a way of advancing to meet special needs and that extends to finding missing children and protecting them from predators. In the case of Sierra LaMar, investigators and searchers had hoped her cell phone might provide a trail, bread crumbs, if you will, to help find her. When it was discovered two days later, the cell phone didn't help. "That then is the Achilles heel of all of the child locator GPS technologies that exist in the marketplace today," said Klaas Kids Foundation founder Marc Klaas.

Still, it inspired engineers to come up with better tools to protect and to locate missing kids. Klaas and his foundation put the stamp of approval on a suite of high-tech ideas. The "Leo Wristwatch" is a combination GPS tracker and cell phone on a titanium bracelet, locked to a child's wrist to prevent loss or removal. Calls are restricted to parents or a caretaker. It sells for $149.95.

KlaasKids Foundation unveils child protection tools
Updated at 05:57 PM today

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- In Morgan Hill Thursday, families of missing or murdered children announced that new high-tech tools are now available when children go missing. Thursday was the birthday of kidnap and murder victim Polly Klaas of Petaluma. She died at the age of 10 and would have turned 32 Thursday.

Technology has a way of advancing to meet special needs and that extends to finding missing children and protecting them from predators. In the case of Sierra LaMar, investigators and searchers had hoped her cell phone might provide a trail, bread crumbs, if you will, to help find her. When it was discovered two days later, the cell phone didn't help. "That then is the Achilles heel of all of the child locator GPS technologies that exist in the marketplace today," said Klaas Kids Foundation founder Marc Klaas.

Still, it inspired engineers to come up with better tools to protect and to locate missing kids. Klaas and his foundation put the stamp of approval on a suite of high-tech ideas. The "Leo Wristwatch" is a combination GPS tracker and cell phone on a titanium bracelet, locked to a child's wrist to prevent loss or removal. Calls are restricted to parents or a caretaker. It sells for $149.95.

Another innovation is a smartphone app called "Polly's Guardiangel." It enables parents to have photos, physical data, and other details assembled and ready to blast out to friends, family, and neighbors the moment their child is missing. It enables a search to get under way while stressed-out parents might still be in shock. "Plain facts that you'd be able to recall at any time, or you're going to be stumbling," Safety Grid President Jim Hankins explained. "Quick access to the photos, right there, and distribute them. So, it's very powerful."

A new browser called "Cocoon" restricts web access to parental-approved sites. It also keeps predators at bay. "We block their identity so they don't know who the name is. We block the IP address. We block the location. We keep them inside of a cocoon," Virtual World Computing CEO Vernon Irvin explained.

Of all the new tools, the Leo watch appealed most to Midsi Sanchez. She was abducted in 2000 at age 9. "I didn't know if anyone was looking for me. If I had this watch, I would have been able to immediately contact my family members, then I would have known that they were getting in touch with the Vallejo Police Department to help find me," she said.

All the tech tools are clearly aimed at youngsters, but they may have to broaden their scope in the near future because many kidnap victims and missing people tend to be high school or college age, and sometimes young adults.

Another innovation is a smartphone app called "Polly's Guardiangel." It enables parents to have photos, physical data, and other details assembled and ready to blast out to friends, family, and neighbors the moment their child is missing. It enables a search to get under way while stressed-out parents might still be in shock. "Plain facts that you'd be able to recall at any time, or you're going to be stumbling," Safety Grid President Jim Hankins explained. "Quick access to the photos, right there, and distribute them. So, it's very powerful."

A new browser called "Cocoon" restricts web access to parental-approved sites. It also keeps predators at bay. "We block their identity so they don't know who the name is. We block the IP address. We block the location. We keep them inside of a cocoon," Virtual World Computing CEO Vernon Irvin explained.

Of all the new tools, the Leo watch appealed most to Midsi Sanchez. She was abducted in 2000 at age 9. "I didn't know if anyone was looking for me. If I had this watch, I would have been able to immediately contact my family members, then I would have known that they were getting in touch with the Vallejo Police Department to help find me," she said.

All the tech tools are clearly aimed at youngsters, but they may have to broaden their scope in the near future because many kidnap victims and missing people tend to be high school or college age, and sometimes young adults.

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_________________
Prayers for our little HaLeigh Cummings, wherever she may be!!

Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation. Go find somebody’s hand and squeeze it, while there’s time.
-- Dale Dauten--

Thank you RAINE for all you ARE!! I will ALWAYS hold you in my Heart!!
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