On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, a ceremony was held for Michaela Garecht. Family, friends, police officers, and supporters gathered in the parking lot of a grocery store in Hayward, California to remember a young child who was kidnapped twenty-five years ago.
Nine-year-old Garecht and her friend, Katrina Rodriguez, went to a nearby store, located a few blocks away from their homes. They parked their scooters outside and purchased soda, beef jerky, and Laffy Taffy, and as they went outside, they discovered that one scooter was missing. They split up in an attempt to find the scooter, and when Rodriguez looked up after hearing a scream, she noticed a man placing Garecht in a car. Garecht has not been seen since.
On November 19, 1998, a witness stated how she saw the abduction from the parking lot of the Rainbow Market, now known as Mexico Super, on Mission Boulevard. A composite sketch was released to the public and thousands of leads were followed by the police and FBI, but she was unfortunately never found. "I was a young police officer when Michaela was abducted and if I could have one thing come of my career, it would be to have Michaela found," said Hayward Police Lieutenant Christopher Orrey. Last year, one lead involved tests of bone fragments, which were tied to Central Valley serial killers, yet the DNA evidence proved that the bones belonged to a previously identified victim. In recent months, there have also been a few cases of missing young girls who were found alive, which boosted the spirits of Garecht's family. Still, she remains missing, but will always be remembered.
At the ceremony on Tuesday morning, dozens of people tied yellow ribbons to a tree, yet there was one that stood out amongst the rest: that of Sharon Murch, Garecht's mother. Her handwritten message reaches deep within the hearts of all and states, "To Michaela, I love you forever. Wherever you are..."
At the time of the abduction, her hopes were increased by reports of possible suspects, whom were found to be not responsible for Garecht's disappearance. "It's really hard to describe the really devastating impact that whole episode had on us, to spend several months contemplating whether or not we were actually going to find out that Michaela was no longer alive, and what that would mean, and what that would feel like," she said. Though Murch has revealed a range of emotions throughout the past twenty-five years, she continues to be confident in Michaela's safe return home. Lately, she keeps herself busy by writing a novel, which is based on her ordeal. "This story is engraved in my heart and it wants out," she said.
Murch also uses her own website to receive tips, and also includes lists of addresses and contact information of U.S. embassies across the world. Her goal is to help Michaela contact authorities if she is overseas and needs assistance. Murch writes, "Michaela, you need to know the love that has been poured into the investigation to try to find you. It's not for lack of trying. If we haven't found you, if anything it's actually because so many people were trying to help, not because there was not enough help. The world loves you, Michaela, and the investigators love you, really love you, and most of all, I love you. Forever. As long as I'm living, and beyond that. Come home, please."
Image via Wikimedia Commons