HAYWARD, CA — On November 19, 1988, nine-year-old Michaela Garecht and a friend rode their scooters to the Rainbow Market, a grocery store just two blocks from the Garecht’s home.Related: 4 Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe In Honor Of National Missing Children’s Day
After the girls purchased candy and exited the shop, Michaela noticed that one of their scooters had been moved into the store’s parking lot. When Michaela walked over to the scooter, an adult white male with long, dirty blond hair grabbed her, forced her into his vehicle, and sped off.
No one who loves Michaela has seen her since.
Based on descriptions from the friend who witnessed the abduction, several suspects have come under scrutiny for the crime, but none have thus far been arrested.
Of those questioned, most were suspected in other child-snatchings or had been guilty of similar transgressions. Prominent among them were married couple Phillip and Nancy Garrido, who, in 1991, kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Duggard and held her captive for the next 18 years.
Sharon Murch, Michaela’s mother, has stated it’s possible that her daughter fell prey to a human-trafficking ring and was taken out of the United States. Throughout the years, possible sightings of Michaela have been reported in Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
Now, even though nearly three decades have passed, Michaela’s family still searches and maintains hope that one day they will all be reunited. Every November 19, Michaela’s family, friends, and loved ones gather outside the market from which she was taken to honor her memory and to keep the search for answers active and alive. They tie yellow ribbons around a tree in a hugely emotional demonstration of both sorrow and hope.
On the 25th anniversary of Michaela’s disappearance in 2013, Sharon Murch wrote on her blog, Dear Michaela: “Honestly, what I want to do is crawl into bed for the day and pull the blanket up over my head, but I have my yellow ribbons, and I am going to go to the store and hang them on the tree again.”
Murch has pledged to never stop seeking the truth regarding what happened to Michaela, no matter what the outcome.
If you have any information whatsoever on this case, please call the Hayward, California, Police Department at (510) 293-7272, or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at MissingKids.com.
If you are in search of a missing person, make sure to enter their information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Main photo: Michaela Joy Garecht [Wikipedia]