Michaela Garecht was only 9 years old when she was kidnapped shortly before Thanksgiving in 1988. More than 32 years later, a suspect, David Emery Misch, has been charged with her murder.
Her kidnapping haunted her family and her community for decades. The case was featured on TV shows over the years, such as “Unsolved Mysteries,” as investigators worked to identify a suspect in her case and gather leads. It was through advanced printing technology that police were able to gather enough evidence to charge a suspect, officials said.
Misch has already been incarcerated for about three decades. He was convicted of murder in 1990, and is awaiting trial in a double murder committed in 1986. Read more about him here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michaela’s Mom, Sharon Murch, Has Cancer & Now Lives in a Small Town in Iowa
You never gave up @HaywardPD. The disappearance of Michaela Garecht had a significant impact on communities throughout the East Bay. Our hearts go out to Michaela’s family during this time. We were proud to have a small role – great teamwork! @FBISanFrancisco @AlamedaCountyDA pic.twitter.com/cUbMjhFPGP
— Fremont Police Department (@FremontPD) December 21, 2020
Michaela Garecht’s mom has wondered for decades what happened to her daughter, and questioned whether she really wanted to have answers, she said in a statement read by police during a press conference announcing a suspect was identified. Misch’s charges were announced Monday, December 21, 2020 by Hayward Police Department and other agencies.
Murch recently moved to a small town in Iowa. She was unable to attend the press conference due to health concerns. She was recently diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, she wrote in a blog post.
“I am undergoing treatment, and I am at high risk, so I am not traveling due to covid precautions,” she wrote.
She wrote in November, 2020, that the cancer did not respond to the first-line treatment.
2. Garecht Rode on a Scooter With a Friend to Buy Snacks & Was Abducted
Michaela was only about two blocks from her home when she was abducted, officials said during a press conference. She was abducted in the parking lot of the Rainbow Market in Hayward, California, on the morning of November 19, 1988. Michaela and her friend rode to the market on a scooter to buy candy and soda. When Michaela and her friend were inside, police allege Misch moved the scooter near his vehicle to isolate Michaela and grab her.
“It was so brazen, so ruthless, but clearly planned,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.
O’Malley said she hopes the charges filed against Misch will bring some comfort to the family, and said justice will prevail for Michaela.
“They were just kids. Carefree, certainly unsuspecting of the danger that lay ahead,” O’Malley said.
3. Garecht’s Mom Said She Pictures Her Daughter in a Better Place
Michaela’s mom, Sharon Murch, gave a statement to police thanking the people who have supported her over the years and the officers who have investigated the case.
“I know that as you hear this news, your hearts are breaking along with mine,” she said in a statement, read by police. “In the last year, I had to come to a place of accepting Michaela was probably no longer alive. But somehow, that acceptance was far more wrapped up in the idea of Michaela sitting on a fluffy pink cloud, walking streets of gold, dancing on grassy hills, soaring among the stars.”
She wrote a blog post shortly before the charges were announced, and described Misch as “a monster.” She questioned how someone could hurt a child.
“He is a monster. Seriously what drives a human being to do something like this? What even enables him to?” she wrote.
As for me? What you will hear about from me is the only thing I care about. Michaela. And maybe love, maybe grief, maybe faith, although I have to tell you I feel as though I am wandering around lost. I am looking, looking again for the answers I thought I had found, but all I can find right now is emptiness. There has been this really big feeling that has been rolling around inside me, creating a giant hole, and just this morning I figured out what it is. It is a feeling that my daughter has been alone for these 32 years. While I was running around doing interviews, writing blogs, tying ribbons on trees, she was lying cold and alone. You know that I have been able to accept the likelihood that Michaela was like no longer alive. How many times have I said it would be a comfort to know that she had been in a better place for all these years rather than spending a lifetime in pain, fear, grief? But what I realize is that I had never at all been able to envision her being dead…So this is what I am left with. I can touch only the edges of this knowledge, just skimming the surface, because it is too painful. While I have envisioned Michaela as not living in this world, she was always in a good place. I have seen her floating on clouds, running in grass meadows. I have literally envisioned the two of us sitting on stars in eternity, drinking tea and chatting, in a place where all the horrors of this life have faded into insignificance in the greater whole. Now, for some reason, I can no longer see those places. I can only see my child cold and alone. I feel like I abandoned her to pursue rabbit trail, when all this time I should have been lying with her.
She concluded the post, “I love you forever, baby girl. Rest well. I have some things to do here yet, but I will see you in the not terribly distant future.”
Murch signed the post, “mom.”
4. Garecht’s Case Was the Fourth Murder Misch Was Accused of Committing
#BREAKING: #FBI joins @HaywardPD and @AlamedaCountyDA as they announce criminal charges against David Emery Misch, 59, for the murder of Michaela Garecht. https://t.co/3GeE3VEOLx pic.twitter.com/3gYnr6VUHe
— FBI SanFrancisco (@FBISanFrancisco) December 21, 2020
Misch has been convicted in a previous murder case, and is awaiting trial in a double murder. In 1990, he was convicted of murder in a 1989 case in Alameda County, California.
In the double murder, filed in 2018, he was charged in the kidnap and murder of Michelle Xavier, 18, and Jennifer Ann Duey, 20. The pair, who the SFGate described as “best friends,” was found stabbed and shot on the shoulder of a road in Fremont, California by a passerby on a motorcycle in 1986. They were killed leaving a family gathering.
Misch was arrested in the deaths of Duey and Xavier on March 5, 2018 after a warrant was issued through the district attorney’s office, according to his jail record. He was charged in that case with murder and special circumstances of felony murder, and related charges. His next court proceeding is a pre-trial hearing scheduled for February 17, 2021 in the East County Hall of Justice.
Here is his jail record:
He has been incarcerated for about three decades. He is imprisoned at the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, and has repeatedly been denied parole.
5. Michaela’s Mom Put Up Her Christmas Tree on the Anniversary of Her Daughter’s Kidnap
Fremont Cold Case Detective works with @AlamedaCountyDA resulting in charges being filed in connection with 1986 cold-case double homicide investigation. https://t.co/0I5mSu1ddr pic.twitter.com/tBMKOJPcNa
— Fremont Police Department (@FremontPD) March 5, 2018
Michaela’s mom keeps a journal for her children, which includes public posts about her missing daughter. She wrote in November, 2020, that she put up her Christmas tree on the anniversary of her daughter’s disappearance, and plans to make it a tradition.
“Meanwhile, I want to let you know that we did set up our Christmas tree on November 19th, and we did tie a rainbow of little ribbons from the bottom to the top. It was a good thing, and I have decided to make it my regular practice. Here are a few photos for you,” she wrote. “And for you, Michaela, if you are still out there somewhere.”
In the first pages of her journal, she copied a poem, “Epitaph” by Merrit Malloy.
Love doesn’t die.
So when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
“That is all I have left of Michaela. Love,” she wrote. “I can cross my arms and hug myself, and hold that precious love.”