I am writing this on Saturday, December 19, 2020. In two days the Hayward Police Department, Alameda County District Attorney, and FBI will announce to the world that after 32 years and 32 days, they have identified and charged Michaela’s kidnapper with homicide. They have not found Michaela, but they have identified her kidnapper. He is in prison for murder, and is currently on trial for two other murders. He is a monster. Seriously what drives a human being to do something like this? What even enables him to? On Monday just before the press conference, they will be filing homicide charges against this man. David Misch is his name. You aren’t going to find a lot of information here about him, or about the investigation. That will come from the Hayward Police Department.
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. Misch killed his victims by stabbing. One young woman was shot, but on that occasion he was trying to kill two at once. 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.
I know that sounds crazy. But there is no logic to the feelings I have had since receiving this news. To even put them into words is impossible. I have had to tell people that asking, “how are you?” is not a good idea, because there just is no answer to that question. This has driven me into silence. I have learned that it is actually possible to stay in bed all day, and then again all night. Honestly, part of what this withdrawal is about is seeking some sort of answers, some sense of truth. I lie there and I ask to be shown something, to be able to feel something, to feel Michaela’s presence, to feel God’s presence, but there is nothing. My faith has been shaken.
When in the past people have questioned why God didn’t help Michaela, I have said that we don’t know that he didn’t. As far as we know, God could have sent his angels to hold her, to take her out of her body so she would not feel the pain and terror. I pray now that this is true.
I’m sorry. This seems like a dark place I am taking you to here. I want you to know that I am thinking of you, my friends, who have accompanied me on this long journey, those who have loved a little girl they never even met, as well as those who loved the little girl they knew. For many of you, I can see your names floating before me because of your frequent expressions of love. (Including you, Zahra!) I know that your hearts are breaking with mine. Maybe someday I will have something reassuring to say again, but right now I just don’t. Nothing. I am on my knees.
And to Michaela, I am so so so sorry baby girl. I feel as though I let you down in a million ways. I was listening to Rescue by Lauren Daigle yesterday. This has been my song for you, and I broke down because I had not been able to rescue you, because I had never ever been able to rescue you. I wonder if God can rescue me? I am trying to hold onto what has kept me going for awhile now, and that is that I know you are a bright and shining light. You were a light to all who knew you when you were here in the world, and you have been a light even to strangers beyond number since you have been gone. I will, we will, try to keep that light shining for you.
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.
I was unable to attend the press conference in the Bay Area, because I moved to a small, peaceful town in southwest Iowa at the beginning of this year. Since then I have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I am undergoing treatment, and I am at high risk, so I am not traveling due to covid precautions. This is the statement I gave to the police for use at their press conference.
STATEMENT FOR PRESS CONFERENCE
First, I would like to address all the people who have accompanied me on this long, long journey. I know that as you hear this news, your hearts are breaking, along with mine. In the last year, I had come to a place of accepting that Michaela was probably no longer alive. But somehow, that acceptance was far more wrapped up in the idea of Michaela sitting on fluffy pink clouds, walking streets of gold, dancing on grassy hills, soaring among the stars. What I did not envision was my daughter as a dead child. It was only when I heard this news, that this vision of reality appeared, and I honestly have not figured out what to do with it. A chill set in that had nothing to do with the snow outside my home in southwest Iowa. I feel as though I am still looking for Michaela, but now I don’t know where. I honestly feel lost in the dark.
Over the years, I often wondered whether I really wanted to know the truth of what happened to Michaela. I wondered if I would be able to take it. When I received news of the kidnapper having been identified, I asked the hard questions of Detective Purnell, of what method this man used to kill his victims, and received answers, and they were not easy. When I had doubted whether I would want to know, it always came back to, if Michaela could experience it, I could hear it. Because it’s not about me. It’s never been about me, about my feelings. It is and always has been about Michaela. What I have been through is nothing. What I feel is not important. It is only about Michaela. The thoughts of her fear, her pain, her grief, are overwhelming.
Yet, as I told our detective, I am glad that the kidnapper has been identified. I am glad that there are answers. I am glad that this man will never be able to hurt anyone else.
I also want to thank all the men and women of Hayward PD who have worked so hard on Michaela’s case for all these years, and those who have propped me up in some of the hardest parts. I was disappointed when those who worked on the case at the time of the Garrido investigation rotated out or retired. But when Detective Robert Purnell took over the case, each of them assured me that I could not ask for a better investigator. It seems they were right. Never would I have thought that this case would be solved after 32 years! Nor was it solved by a witness providing information. It was solved by painstaking police work. My thanks also to Fremont PD, for remembering Michaela and bringing Hayward into their own case. In this, I see the better angels of the investigative process, where beyond cases there are human beings. I remember visiting Hayward PD awhile into the investigation, and seeing the rows of filing cabinets filled with information on Michaela’s case. Every drawer was marked, not with a case number, but with a photograph of a little girl. My little girl.
So thank you, all of you, for your love, a love that has endured decades, for Michaela. I ask that you please don’t forget her now. She is no longer a case, but she is what she always has been, and that is a bright and shining light, and in her absence from this earth, it is up to us to find a way to carry her light forward.
Hayward Police Department Press Release:
Suspect Charged in Murder of Michaela Garecht
HAYWARD, Calif., December 21, 2020— After more than 30-years of exhaustive and determined
investigative work, today the Hayward Police Department can announce 59-year David Misch
has been charged in the murder of Michaela Garecht. On November 19, 1988, nine-year-old
Michaela was kidnapped from the Rainbow Market located on Mission Boulevard in South
Hayward. Several witnesses provided a description of the suspect who was seen pulling
Michaela into his vehicle. It is a tragic story that has gripped the Bay Area for decades now
brought to a close by new facts in the case.
This investigation experienced a breakthrough earlier this year when fingerprints from the
scene were matched to the suspect. Misch has not been a threat to society as he has been in
State Prison since 1989 for a murder. He also is awaiting trial for a double murder committed in
Fremont in 1986.
The Hayward Police Department would like to thank the FBI, Fremont Police Department,
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for their
partnership, cooperation and assistance in this investigation.
Additionally, we want to commend the numerous men and women in the Hayward Police
Department who have spent thousands of hours, pouring their heart and soul into bringing
justice to Michaela’s family. This was an ongoing team effort.
Chief Toney Chaplin stated, “The Hayward Police Department has never stopped seeking justice
for Michaela and her family. I have a lot of pride in our organization and am grateful for the
men and women in the building who have shown their perseverance and tenacity to bringing
closure to Michaela’s family. We have always kept Michaela at the forefront of our efforts and
understand important questions remain unanswered, but we are happy to provide some peace
to Michaela’s family and the Hayward community.”
Alameda County District Attorney Press Release
DA CHARGES DAVID MISCH WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER
DA CHARGES DAVID MISCH WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER IN THE 1988 DISAPPEARANCE AND KILLING OF NINE-YEAR-OLD MICHAELA GARECHT
Police identify suspect and DA files charges in cold case that has haunted the Bay Area for over 30 years
Oakland, CA- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today filed a criminal complaint against David Misch. The complaint charges Misch with the murder and kidnapping of Michaela Garecht on November 19, 1988, in the city of Hayward. In addition to the charge of Murder, a violation of Penal Code Section 187, the District Attorney also alleges Special Circumstances in that Michaela was murdered in the course of a kidnapping, a violation of Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(17)(ii), and the Special Circumstance of being convicted previously of murder, a violation of Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(2).
Michaela Garecht was only nine years old when she was kidnapped outside a neighborhood market in Hayward. The brazen kidnapping occurred mid-morning on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For more than 32 years, Michaela has never been seen or heard from, nor has her body or any of her remains been found. However, fingerprints found on the scooter she was riding at the time she was abducted matched Misch’s fingerprints. Further, eyewitness evidence places Misch in the immediate location at the time the kidnapping occurred.
“The kidnap and murder of a child is horrific. The pain to the family and friends is indescribable, especially when their child is not found. This crime shocked not just the local community, but the entire Bay Area and the nation,” said DA O’Malley. “I hope that today’s action and announcement will provide some comfort to Michaela’s family in knowing that justice will prevail, even after 32 years since this horrible crime.”
Michaela was kidnapped on the morning of November 19, 1988 after she and her friend rode scooters to the Rainbow Grocery on Mission Blvd in Hayward. They left the scooters outside while they entered the store to buy some snacks. Several minutes later when they came out, one of the scooters had been moved behind a car parked in a nearby space. When Michaela went to fetch the scooter, the driver of that car grabbed her as soon as she walked past his door. He forced her into the front seat of the car. He backed out and sped south on Mission Blvd.
Hayward Police Department never stopped looking for the man who kidnapped and killed Michaela. Around the 30th anniversary of Michaela’s kidnapping, they once again scrutinized all evidence, leads and potential witnesses. Their current fingerprint examiner was provided names of persons of interest. Misch’s name was one of the names provided to her. She began comparing the fingerprints of the names given to her. She was able to match Misch’s fingerprints to those on the scooter. Their ability now to compare prints has been significantly advanced through software, technology and science.
These charges come after more than three decades of investigation led by the Hayward Police Department with the help of many local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI. The tireless work of Hayward detectives, who never gave up on the case, enabled the DA’s office to file these charges.
District Attorney Nancy O’Malley thanks the Hayward Police Department and their dedicated personnel for their unwavering efforts to solve this case. Deputy District Attorney Mark Melton from the Cold Hit Unit worked tirelessly with the Hayward investigators over the entirety of this investigation. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work to see justice done.
Misch is currently facing other charges in Alameda County for the murder of two women in Fremont committed in 1986, and is also currently serving time in State Prison for the 1989 murder of a woman in the Hayward area.
Misch is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, December 22nd at 8:30 am in Department 712. All proceedings are conducted remotely via Bluejeans.
District Attorney Contact: PIO Anna Kelly //Anna.Kelly@acgov.org// (510) 919-0081