No clues found in search of former priest’s home
The search for remains resumed this week at the Tahoe Donner home of a former Catholic priest, but after several hours of digging in the front yard, authorities left empty handed.
Investigators were looking for any evidence that Stephen Kiesle, 55, of Pinole, was connected to the disappearance of Amber Schwartz Garcia.
Garcia was the 8-year old girl who disappeared in June 1988 in front of her Pinole house.
Pinole police and the state Department of Justice began excavating in the front yard of Kiesle’s Sun Valley Road vacation home again on Tuesday after sonar tests done last month revealed a disturbance of the soil near and under the garage.
But by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, police left the area and said they don’t expect to return to perform more excavations.
“We have concluded our search of the Kielse property in Truckee. We have found nothing related to a criminal investigation,” Pinole Police Commander John C. Miner said in a prepared statement. However, the investigation into the molestation allegations continues, Miner said.
Kiesle was arrested on May 16 after a month long investigation by the Freemont Police Department. He was taken into custody at his home in Pinole, California on three counts of child molestation and booked into Freemont City Jail. He is currently free on a $180,000 bond.
Last month’s sonar test produced “readings on the sonar that showed anomalies with a width of 18 inches by two feet, at a depth of 2 to 5 feet and a length of 4 to 6 feet,” said Pinole Police Department Detective Tom Lown on Tuesday out front of Kiesle’s house. “It starts on the outside and goes under [the foundation of the garage].”
Lown said authorities had obtained detailed specifications of the garage and its foundation from a local engineering company.
But those plans still didn’t explain any digging that would have occurred in the area of the disturbance. Authorities concentrated on an area along side the garage just in front of the houses front porch.
On June 20, specialists were brought in to perform sonar work on the ground underneath the garage of the house. The garage was reported to have been added within the last two years.
The sonar was used to give a digital profile of the ground down to a depth of 30 feet and is capable of showing any areas that had been dug and repacked.
In May, as the Freemont Police Department was investigating allegations that Kiesle had molested three Bay Area girls some 20 years ago, the possible link with the Swartz-Garcia case emerged.
It was then that police learned that Kiesle lived on the same street as Schwartz-Garcia at the time of the young girl’s disappearance.
The investigation produced further allegations that Kiesle molested three girls, one reportedly a relative, in his Tahoe Donner home.
Kiesle was ordained in 1972 but left the priesthood in 1981 after pleading no contest to
molesting two boys while serving at a Catholic church in Union City, Calif.
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