She sat at her kitchen table and watched the Hayward police detective hold up a photograph over Zoom of a man she did not recognize.
And then it happened. After 32 years, Sharon Murch, the anguished mother of missing 9-year-old Michaela Joy Garecht, got an answer.
Its very hard for us to tell you this, she recalled Detective Robert Purnell telling her Dec. 10 from the small box on her laptop screen. We dont know where she is, but weve IDd the man who took her.
There was a pause.
I had the phone in one hand and my mouth hanging open, Murch said in a phone interview with The Chronicle. I never thought her case would be solved.
Alameda County prosecutors must still prove the case is solved. But on Monday, they and Hayward police officials announced they had charged David Misch with murdering the girl, who was abducted from a supermarket parking lot in 1988 and never seen again.
Misch is serving a prison sentence for murdering 36-year-old Margaret Ball in her Hayward home in 1989. In 2018, he was charged with an unsolved Fremont double homicide the 1986 killings of Michelle Xavier, 18, and 20-year-old Jennifer Duey and was taken to Santa Rita Jail to await trial. That investigation led them to probe his possible involvement in Michaelas disappearance.
While Michaelas body has never been found, police said evidence and Mischs history as an alleged serial killer indicate she is dead. It is a sad reality that her mother has begrudgingly accepted since she learned his identity.
What he does is he rapes and he murders people, Murch said. He doesnt kidnap kids to find a good home for them.
Mischs arraignment was delayed Tuesday, but his attorney, Ernie Castillo, said his client denies the allegations against him and will fight these charges.
No one in his family believes David would hurt or kill a child, Castillo said, adding that he would investigate the case to establish that David is not involved in Michaelas disappearance.
The arrest provided a respite for Murch in what has been a turbulent year. Her husband lost his job with Union Pacific in November 2019, which forced a move out of California to a more affordable small town in Iowa.
In May, she learned her breast cancer had returned and that it had spread. There was no cure. A frightening diagnosis, but nothing is so clear cut when youre a mother who has lived through so much pain.
When I found out it was metastatic breast cancer, not to sound maudlin, but I thought to myself, maybe Ill get to see Michaela soon, she said.
It was Nov. 19, 1988, when Michaela and her friend Trina rode scooters to the Rainbow Market in Hayward to buy candy and sodas. She had her own scooter, but wanted to borrow Trinas brothers scooter so they could match.
While the girls were in the store, Misch, now 59, moved one of the scooters to the back of the parking lot to avoid attention, police said. He grabbed Michaela into his car, they said. She screamed. And she was gone.
It turned out a palm print on the borrowed scooter would break the case open after investigators matched it to Misch, police said Monday.
The disappearance, sandwiched between other high-profile abductions of young Bay Area girls, devastated Murch and her family. She and her husband Rodney Garecht divorced a year after the abduction. She took leave from her work and became overly protective of her other children, two boys and two girls.
For years, Murch continued buying gifts for Michaela, or Kayla as she was called. She bought a Barbie doll in a cap and gown for what would have been her daughters high school graduation, a childrens story, I Promise Ill Find You for her 18th birthday, and a parakeet the next year.
She started a blog. She would write posts to her daughter.
Michaela, I am still looking for you, Murch wrote in 2018. Although the case may be woven into that fact, however, solving it is not what I am looking for. I am not looking for the kidnapper. I am not wanting to know what happened. I have to tell you the honest truth, Michaela, if you are not alive, I am not sure I actually want to know that. The thought of it all starting up over again chills me.
She would offer tips to Michaela on how to escape if she was alive and held against her will. How to contact authorities. Shed send her daughter updates with photos of grandchildren. Some reminded her of Michaela as a newborn, she wrote.
Anyway, what I am telling you here is that if you hurry home there will be a cuddly new baby for you to hold! she wrote.
In recent years, Murch said she didnt want to hear from police until they had a resolution. Otherwise, it was too hard.
It is a little bit of hell on earth, and I have roasted on that pit for far too long, she wrote in a post.
She signed each blog entry with mom.
As years turned into decades, Murch read the headlines. Golden State Killer captured. Dozens of seemingly hopeless cold cases suddenly solved through pioneering DNA evidence. But her case had no DNA. Few witnesses even.
That didnt stop the speculation. Her blog invited web sleuths who pestered her for years, floating theories and suspect names. You guys just need to give it a rest, shed think.
And then Detective Purnell called Dec. 10 and asked if he could fly out to talk to her in person. She had coronavirus concerns and told him shed prefer to just do a Zoom call. Plus, she couldnt wait days for a plane trip. The news left her feeling lost, she wrote days later.
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, she wrote. 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.
More than 11,000 well-wishers jumped onto her blog in the hours after the police announced the arrest. She responded to every comment, most with a heart emoji.
Its moments like these in which Murch is glad she left California. She found a sense of peace with the move, similar to how she felt when she left Hayward for Castro Valley.
I can walk down the street tomorrow and no one will mob me and want to congratulate me and give me hugs. Id be getting COVID! she said with a laugh.
She often finds herself singing the Cheers theme song, except with her own modified line of Where no one knows your name.
Shed spent years trying to keep Michaelas story in the news, talking to media, hosting remembrances. Experts say that can help solve a case. But for Murch and other parents of missing kids, it forces a constant reliving of their darkest hours and a loss of privacy.
But shes quick to brush away any pity I am not missing, Michaela was the one who was missing.
On Monday, despite feeling tired from cancer treatments and emotionally spent from the news, she fielded calls from well-wishers and media, baring her soul yet again. She was repeatedly asked if she wanted to say something to Misch. She didnt think she did.
But, I actually do want to say to him, You are nothing, she said. You are not important enough to kill. You are less than a man.
Murch said she doesnt believe in the death penalty. She saves flies from drowning in her coffee mug, she said.
I definitely want him to spend the rest of his life in prison, she said. I dont want him to hurt anyone else.
She knows there are other victims of Misch who deserve a say in his potential sentence like the two young women hes suspected of killing but shes more concerned about finding her daughters body.
I would definitely prioritize that, she said.
With the remains still a mystery, Hayward police have offered few details about the case. The detective who broke the news to Murch called the development bittersweet.
Im happy to give some semblance of closure to the family, and I remain hopeful that Mr. Misch will eventually lead us to Michaelas body, Purnell said.
The trial could take years. Murch doubted shell attend court hearings.
I have to see how things are, Murch said. I have to see how our bank account is.
On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the news conference, Murch crunched her boots through the half-melted snow outside her house and drove with her youngest daughter Johnna to yet another cancer treatment. After she kicked the disease the first time, she got a tattoo on her forearm. A J.R.R. Tolkien quote: Still round the corner there may wait a new road or secret gate.
Murch said her lobular carcinoma is not curable.
You go through one treatment and then another, she said. You just keep going.
She posted on her blog shortly after the press announcement Michaelas case has been solved.
She wrote how she felt like she let Michaela down. She wasnt able to rescue her. She said she takes solace knowing the bright and shining light her daughter brought to the world. She wants to keep that light shining.
I love you forever, baby girl. Rest well, she wrote. I have some things to do here yet, but I will see you in the not terribly distant future. mom.
Matthias Gafni is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @mgafni
The rest is here:
- US-Mexico border closure turned busy streets into ghost town - Business Insider - September 1st, 2021
- History Of Tattoo. The Time Of The Appearance Of The First Tattoos. - The Seeker Newsmagazine Cornwall - The Seeker - August 20th, 2021
- Australian Baroques Space Music blends historical composition and astronomical images at the Girls School - The West Australian - August 6th, 2021
- Abi Rawlings: Who is the Love Island 2021 star? - The Independent - August 6th, 2021
- The Unending Allure Of the Tattoo Boyfriend and the Pretty Girlfriend - Jezebel - July 8th, 2021
- Rauw Alejandro, Like the Rest of Us, Has A Big Crush on J.Lo - Interview - July 8th, 2021
- Love Island hunk to wow girls in villa by showing them tattoo of his MUM... - The Sun - June 26th, 2021
- Brooke Shields finds an unusual and very personal way to bond with her teenage daughter - Woman & Home - June 26th, 2021
- Katie Prices fiance Carl Woods trolled over new tattoo of her with fans saying it looks like her rival J... - The Irish Sun - June 26th, 2021
- Tokyo Tattoo Girls on Steam - June 9th, 2021
- Blueface Responds to Video of Women Getting Tattoos, in Bunk Beds - XXL - XXLMAG.COM - May 4th, 2021
- Grandpa wants to bribe girls not to get a tattoo - The Boston Globe - May 4th, 2021
- Heres The Full Story Behind That Viral TikTok Of A Girl Getting Upskirted At A Syd Tattoo Shop - Pedestrian TV - April 19th, 2021
- Ruby Rose on gender, bullying and breaking free: I had a problem with authority - The Guardian - April 4th, 2021
- Traditional Croatian Tattoos: Meet the tattoo artist keeping tradition alive - Croatia Week - March 8th, 2021
- David and Victoria Beckham Have a Matching Hebrew Tattoo Here's What It Means - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - March 8th, 2021
- Exotic Body Works celebrates 25th anniversary - Hammonton Gazette - February 14th, 2021
- Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik now have matching tattoos in honour of their daughter Emirates Woman - Emirates Woman - February 11th, 2021
- I was fired 30 mins into my dream job because of my tattoos my family hate them & people shout abuse but I w - The Irish Sun - February 11th, 2021
- I was fired 30 mins into my dream job because of my tattoos my family hate them & people shout abuse but I w - The Sun - February 10th, 2021
- 10 Celebs Who Have Finger Tattoos | TheThings - TheThings - February 7th, 2021
- Kamala Harris' Stepdaughter Ella Emhoff Is Making Waves Get To Know The Rising Model In 5 Snaps - OK! - February 4th, 2021
- Problems with girls and the Troubles with men - The Irish Times - February 4th, 2021
- New Movies to Watch This Week: Supernova, The Little Things, Palmer - Variety - February 2nd, 2021
- Cops investigated kidnappings, extortions, teen runaways across California. Victims all ended up at same motel, forced into sex trafficking, feds say... - January 27th, 2021
- 'Miss Scarlet and the Duke' Recap: Episode 2 - WTTW News - January 25th, 2021
- The tattoo on her arm said it all: Grace Orzechowski was a fighter - Concord Monitor - January 20th, 2021
- Modern, Edgy And Bold: Different Bob Cuts For Girls To Try - Femina - January 15th, 2021
- What's New on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and More in January 2021 - TV Guide - January 15th, 2021
- KVD Vegan Beauty Announces Launch of Limited-Edition Tattoo Liner with Global Organization, Girl Up - PRNewswire - January 12th, 2021
- Sonakshi Sinha Paints The Town Yellow in an Embroidered Cape Set from the Shelves of Arpita Mehta Worth Rs 39 - India.com - January 12th, 2021
- Musician tattoo stories | Wild and funny tattoos - Alternative Press - January 12th, 2021
- 40+ YA Book Cover Artists and Designers to Follow on Instagram - Book Riot - January 12th, 2021
- FIRST LOOK: Meet the contestants for new reality dating show The Cabins - FM104 - January 5th, 2021
- The Cabins cast: Meet all the contestants in the winter Love Island dating show - The Sun - January 5th, 2021
- What's New on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and More in January 2021 - TV Guide - January 3rd, 2021
- Gothika Ending, Explained | Why Did Miranda See the Boy's Ghost? - The Cinemaholic - December 31st, 2020
- Tour Tales | Crowned YB shares untold stories of shooting Dave East around the world - REVOLT TV - December 31st, 2020
- An Interview with Gareth Johnson MP by Neve Wilson, Dartford Grammar School for Girls - This is Local London - December 31st, 2020
- Everything coming to and leaving Netflix in January 2021 - Fox News - December 28th, 2020
- Well At Least Some Positives for Women in 2020 - The Citizen - December 27th, 2020
- Jollof Couscous & Leather Jackets: Inside The Mind Of Enny - British Vogue - December 25th, 2020
- This is Justin Vernon from Bon Ivers favourite song of all time - Far Out Magazine - December 25th, 2020
- Family beg dad who disappeared after saying he was 'going away' to call this Christmas - Liverpool Echo - December 25th, 2020
- Shows like Black Widows that you may like; from Django Unchained to Gone Girl & more - Republic World - December 25th, 2020
- The Interview Gift Guide That Gives Back - Interview - December 23rd, 2020
- 25 Feather Tattoos for Girls in 2020 NewShables - December 21st, 2020
- How sexy these tattoos on intimate body parts of women ... - December 21st, 2020
- How I Met Your Mother: 10 Worst First Dates The Characters Had - Screen Rant - December 21st, 2020
- Sabrina Carpenter's Got Her Very First Tattoo, and It's a Reference to Her "Lucky" Life - POPSUGAR Beauty Austrailia - December 18th, 2020
- Whats New On Netflix In January: Night Stalker, History of Swear Words, Cobra Kai And More - BroBible - December 18th, 2020
- Roxanne First Shares Her Inspirations - Vanity Fair - December 16th, 2020
- So, What the Hell Folk Tales Is Taylor Swift Telling Now on evermore? - Vulture - December 12th, 2020
- The Work Diary of Mira Mariah, Tattoo and Girl Culture Expert - The New York Times - December 11th, 2020
- Strongest girl in the world: Meet the 7-year-old who can lift 80 kg - The Indian Express - December 11th, 2020
- Mum of twins divides opinion after tattooing one baby to help tell them apart - Heart - December 11th, 2020
- Three Oaks wants INKED to raise awareness - Toronto Star - December 11th, 2020
- [150+] Beautiful Wrist Tattoo Ideas ... - Tattoos for Girls - December 6th, 2020
- The girl with her own tattoos: the joy of homemade ink - The Guardian - December 6th, 2020
- 35 Hand Tattoos for Women | Cute Tattoos For Girls On Hand - December 6th, 2020
- Emily Viti's son has MPS and the Framingham High volleyball coach is fighting to find a cure for the terminal disease - Milford Daily News - December 6th, 2020
- Mara and Dona: Argentine twins a living tribute to soccer great - Reuters - November 28th, 2020
- Born into occupation, young Afghans fear the Taliban will crush their freedoms when US troops exit - Anchorage Daily News - November 23rd, 2020
- Environmental contest's winning displays and essays are on exhibit at Jeff Library - NOLA.com - November 18th, 2020
- Tiffany Calver: Living the dream | DJMag.com - DJ Mag - November 18th, 2020
- Blind date: 'We realised we have matching tattoos' - The Guardian - November 16th, 2020
- Tattooed twins from Germany (PHOTOS) - The Saxon - November 12th, 2020
- A Clover in weeds, loss, homelessness, beatings and love - Tucson Weekly - November 5th, 2020
- The Real Housewives of New York City's First-Ever Black Housewife Isn't Holding Back - The Daily Beast - November 3rd, 2020
- Every time Bollywood actresses proved that they are protective mothers - Times Now - November 3rd, 2020
- Broadley, BF girls three-peat on Thetford trail - Brattleboro Reformer - November 1st, 2020
- Jack Nowell: Would I get a tattoo of Eddie Jones? Only if he promises to pick me for every England game - iNews - October 31st, 2020
- Ronald Hall, Worcester man accused of human trafficking, kept women addicted to drugs and had his nickname ta - MassLive.com - October 30th, 2020
- Learner Dad: 'I need to get the kids to write an early Santa letter so they cant change their minds' - Irish Examiner - October 27th, 2020
- 133 Inspiring Cute and Small Tattoos Ideas for Girls - October 22nd, 2020
- 30 Beautiful Tattoos for Girls 2020 - Meaningful Tattoo ... - October 22nd, 2020
- Jill Duggar's Tattoo Opinions Have Changed, but Does She Have One? - Distractify - October 22nd, 2020
- Sophie Turner wears vote hoodie on stroll with Joe Jonas and baby girl - Metro.co.uk - October 22nd, 2020
- Jacqueline Jossa reveals her incredible singing voice in the car after admitting she wants to sing on stage - The Irish Sun - October 22nd, 2020
- Jacqueline Jossa reveals her incredible singing voice in the car after admitting she wants to sing on stage - The Sun - October 21st, 2020