Police search former priest’s home near Lake Tahoe for missing girl

Friday June 07, 2002

TRUCKEE – Police searched a former priest’s vacation home Thursday for clues into the disappearance of a girl who was last seen jumping rope in her front yard 14 years ago. 

The former priest, Stephen Kiesle, 55, was arrested in May on three unrelated charges of child molestation dating back three decades. Police obtained a warrant to dig at his vacation home Tuesday after getting “hits” from cadaver-sniffing dogs, authorities said. 

Kiesle, who resigned from the priesthood in 1981, according to his attorney, had lived down the street from 7-year-old Amber Swartz-Garcia when she disappeared from Pinole in 1988. 

Amber was about the same age and looked similar to the three girls Kiesle is accused of molesting 30 years ago. 

“Those were a couple of coincidental things,” said Pinole police Cmdr. John Miner. “Those things raised our eyebrows.” 

Searchers digging around Kiesle’s vacation house in Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, found nothing Wednesday and continued the work Thursday. El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies also were searching for any evidence of another girl, Jaycee Dugard, 11, who has been missing from nearby South Lake Tahoe since 1991. 

Kiesle’s attorney, Bill Gagen, said police violated his client’s privacy without evidence. 

“I know of nothing that is ever going to signify he ever did anything violent to anybody,” Gagen said.