Michaela’s Kidnapping

 

Michaela was my first child, the desire of my heart for over five years before she was born, finally conceived only with the assistance of a prescription for fertility pills.  She was the first person to curl her little tiny hand around my fingers, and around my heart, the first one ever to call me “mommy.”  Beautiful beyond measure, tender hearted and compassionate, she was a living light in this world.  Then she was gone.

November 19, 1988
At home.

It was a sunny Saturday morning, the first day of Thanksgiving vacation, when Michaela and her best friend, Trina, asked if they could go to the neighborhood market to get some candy and sodas.  The market was only two blocks away, but Michaela had only been there a few times, and then only in the company of the teenage girls who lived next door.  I didn’t want to let her go, and at first I told her no.  But she begged and begged, and so I gave in, and let her go.  I stood at the door and watched as the girls picked up their scooters from the driveway to leave.  Michaela turned to me.  “I love you, mom,” she said.  “I love you, too, Michaela,” I told her.  Those were our last words to each other.  I stood and watched as the girls glided down the driveway and to the end of the block, until they turned out of sight.  I went back inside and started washing the breakfast dishes.
Michaela hadn’t been gone for long, not long enough for me to worry about her, when I heard shouting out in the street, where Michaela’s dad was working on the car in the driveway.  A minute later he stuck his head in the kitchen doorway.  “Somebody snatched Michaela up at the market,” he said breathlessly.  “You call 911. I’m going up there.”  I stood there with my mouth open, unable to comprehend the horror of what I was hearing.  Somebody “snatched” Michaela up at the market?  What did that even mean?  I picked up the phone and dialed 911.  They knew my name without my telling them.  They asked some questions, and told me to wait at my house for the officer.
“Have they found her yet?” I asked.
“No, not yet,” the dispatcher answered.  “Just wait for the officer. He will explain everything to you.”
I hung up the phone and began waiting, began a lifetime of waiting. I began pacing, tracing figure eights around my small house, figure eights I would continue to trace for years to come, needing to go somewhere but not knowing where, or how to get there.

November 19, 1988
At the market.

Michaela and Trina had left their scooters by the side door of the market while they went in and purchased some candy and sodas and beef jerky.  When they left the market, they started to walk home, completely forgetting that they had ridden the scooters there.  Halfway across the parking lot they remembered, and turned back to get them.
One of the scooters was not by the door where they’d left it.  Michaela spotted it first, about three parking spaces down from the door, next to a car.  She went to get it.  As she bent over to pick it up, a man jumped out of the car next to the scooter, grabbed her from behind, and threw her screaming into his car as Trina watched in horror.  He climbed in and started the car, drove out of the parking lot and took off driving erratically down the busy highway which is Mission Boulevard in Hayward.  Trina ran into the store for help.  The police were called.  Trina then called her dad, who drove by my house on his way to the store and told Michaela’s dad what had happened.  The police response was immediate, arriving before Trina’s dad and Michaela’s dad.
It seemed impossible for this case not to be solved, and solved quickly.  If we’d had Amber Alerts and some of the technology that exists today, perhaps this story would have turned out differently.  But we didn’t.  Michaela is still missing, and the identity of her kidnapper is still unknown.
The Facts:
Michaela was kidnapped on November 19, 1988, at approximately 10:15 a.m., in Hayward, California (San Francisco Bay Area).
The location was at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Lafayette.  At that time it was called Rainbow Market.  Today it is Mexico Super.

Michaela’s Kidnapper

This composite was done by a police forensic artist, with the assistance
of the eyewitness, the day after Michaela was kidnapped.
There is a color composite which was done for Michaela’s case by a private citizen,
but the eyewitness was not consulted for this,
and she doesn’t feel it to be completely accurate

On November 18, 1988, Michaela’s kidnapper was described as a man in his 20’s, with long, dirty-blonde hair.
His most outstanding characteristic was severe acne, like boils. He was driving an older,  tannish-gold, full-size sedan, boxy in shape, with body damage.  We do not know the make or model.  The description is very vague, but put together with the composite drawing of the kidnapper, perhaps it will mean something. The eyewitness noted his eyes.  “He had fox eyes,” she said. “He looked right at me, but he didn’t even see me.” Remember, it is twenty years later.  He would not have the same appearance today.

If you have any information, please call Inspector Robert Purnell1-800-222-3999 or e-mail Robert.Purnell@hayward-ca.gov

Michaela’s poem

A week before Michaela was kidnapped I woke up early. It was about 5:30, still dark outside, and I was surprised to find Michaela sitting at the coffee table in the living room, with a piece of paper and a pencil in front of her.

“Mom,” she said, holding the paper out to me, “I wrote a poem. Do you want to read it?” Of course I did. I took the page from her, read it. I put down the baby I was holding and sat down. This was an astounding poem for a nine-year old girl to have written:

The people knock on doors of steel
The people knock, the people kneel
They think of things that aren’t real
Outside those doors of steel
The people walk, the people know
That outside those doors, the people know
The people think that you may say
The people think that they, too, may
They lack the confidence you have
They think it’s real,
The dreams you have,
The dreams they feel

Michaela went on to explain to me that she’d been awakened by noises in our attic. She said that there were people who had been kidnapped, who were being held captive in our attic.  “You know,” she said, “like in the movie The Peanut Butter Solution.” She was referring to a children’s movie which was about a crazy artist who kidnapped people and used a peanut butter solution to make their hair grow quickly. He then cut off their hair and used it to make magic paintbrushes which painted pictures that came to life, that you could actually walk into.

As impressed as I was with this poem, I was also just a little concerned about it as well. It just didn’t seem like something that would come from a nine-year old. Over the course of the next few days, I kept probing bit by bit to try to find out more about it. At one point I asked Michaela if she was one of the people behind the doors of steel. “No, mom,” she said smiling easily, “I am not one of the people behind the doors of steel.”

A week later, though, she did become one of the people who had been kidnapped, and I think yes, one of the people behind the doors of steel. In the years since Michaela has been gone, I have come to believe that this could be nothing less than a premonition of sorts. I have searched its words for clues as to what happened to Michaela, but I have yet to put that puzzle together. The only thing I keep coming back to is that she said it was about people who had been kidnapped and were being held captive. She didn’t say it was about people who had been murdered. If this was a premonition, then, or a message that Michaela left behind, a clue, it would mean that she is still alive.

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74 thoughts on “Michaela’s Kidnapping

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  1. Since I was around 13 I have been checking the Polly Klaas' master list of missing children nearly religiously (every Sunday evening) just because I want so badly to be able to identify one of these poor missing children. I wish so much that I will one day be walking down the sidewalk, see someone who is somehow familiar, and realize it's one of the faces on the news and the internet. I don't know why I am so 'obsessed' with these types of stories, but Michaela's is one I've been following since I first heard about it-I'm only 20 now and so wasn't alive when it happened, but I still think of it often and read this blog frequently. I can only imagine the pain that the false leads bring you, or the overwhelming relief when a dna sample on remains comes back negative.I will continue to keep you and the rest of your family in my thoughts. What's more, I will keep an eye out for Michaela, like I do for all the missing children I have researched and studied in depth. May you find peace, somehow.Love from Canada.

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  2. This is such a devastating story… After showing this to a few of my friends, we've all decided to keep Micheala in our prayers for the rest of our lives up until the time she's found. We'll be praying she'll be found alive and well. It's so sad that so much of her life has been robbed from her, and we hope when she's freed from her kidnapper that she'll be able to take back the rest of her life. #ForeverWithMicheala- With hope and prayers, a believer from Australia.

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  3. Dear Sharon, you and your Michaela have been in my prayers ever since I heard your history (about 2 years ago). I have a suggestion for you.Is there any way you can get Michaela's history to the show THE HUNT, in CNN? Even though all the police have is a skeet of the kidnaper, I still think it is worth to try. I hope and pray that she can be find soon.

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  4. I’m not a parent & have never had a loved one go missing. I’m not going to lie & tell you I completely understand what you have been through regarding Michaela’s disappearance. I’ve read your blog for a few years now. At one time I felt connected to you through reading your blog. I suffer from clinical depression that went untreated for years. During that time,several years ago, I had actually called that cell phone number you have posted. When you answered the phone, I felt like a dope & simply apologized and said I had dialed the wrong number. At the time I felt so connected to you, that I felt I could simply call the number and talk to you, like friends. Now, years later and having been treated for my depression I understand how badly my behavior was at the time. I can’t begin to apologize for having even dialed that number. When people post these above comments, “I know what happened. This is not a joke.” It’s either a cruel joke or someone who is mentally ill & is unable to separate fantasy from reality. The text you got today “Sharon? Sorry I have the wrong number” Whoever sent you that text message today, it was NOT Michaela, it was NOT person who took her, hell it isn’t even someone who has information pertaining to any of this. It is someone with depression, mental illness, or random non mentally ill person whose morbid curiosity got the better of them. I can tell you from personal experience, the person who sent you that text, feels far worse by their behavior then you ever well.

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  5. Thanks, Angie. Honestly I have had a whole lot of leads from people who said that they knew what had happened to Michaela, and their information was delusional. I'm guessing that is the case with these comments today (there were actually two left, on two different blog entries). But it could actually be someone who knows what happened to Michaela. If it is, then they should just say what they know. The information can be sent anonymously in a comment, and I will get it in my email and will not publish it in my blog, but I will see that it gets to those who can investigate it. If there are any follow up questions, I will leave them here. So, if someone knows what happened, tell us. Thanks.

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  6. I have been doing both therapy & medication. I was diganosed with major clinical depression in my late 20s. I am now in my early 40s. I do far better now than I did in my 20s. My depression is more seasonal. Winter months is a beast. During my child, I can't recall ever having that cycle of yearly depression. My childhood was a happy one. I've never been clear what caused or triggered this viscous cycle as an adult of yearly seasonally depression. Its hard always feeling stuck & always having that feeling of its never going to get any better than this & simply wanting to feel genuinely happy on a daily bases. Sharon, I genuinely hope one day you find out what happen to your daughter, Michaela. Its not fair you have had to go all these years and not know what happen to your baby & worry about her. Blessings to you & your family.

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  7. Please correct me if I am mistaken but wasn't there an issue with the car description? It seems I remember reading that the cashier that called 911 reported the car as burgundy when it was actually gold. If I am remembering correctly, how did that come about?

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  8. Yes that's right. The discrepancy was between the eyewitness description and the description given by someone who thought she had seen him drive by earlier but didn't actually witness the kidnapping.

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  9. My heart breaks for you. As a mother I'm not able to even try and imagine without being overcome with an intense pain and desperate panic unlike any that someone should know. And that's when I just imagine for a second if my baby were taken From me. Just know that she is not forgotten by anyone. Even people who don't know her. I was a child when this happened and I still think of her. That's how I ended up here. I pray that your girl will be found.

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  10. I don't know how you still have so much strength, I admire you more than you will ever know. Our children are our everything and we basically live for them. I cant imagine anyone would ever expect you to “give up” or “let go”. You are not delusional you are a loving mother who will always hope her daughter is alive and well somewhere. That's normal, that's love, that's a mother. I hope you find peace someday.

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  11. Sharon, I just wanted to express my sincere compassion for you in this endeavor. I just started working to help find missing kids and was devastated at the number of children disappearing daily. This came about by getting posts of music videos and travel, art videos from unidentified sources that I couldn't trace. I feel they were clues to some of the missing, but haven't been able to have definite proof yet. My point is, keep posting the music (this video is amazing and should give anyone inspiration to keep fighting if they are out there trying to get back home). There are a lot of organizations working to get children back, so don't give up until you get some answers. The year your daughter disappeared was during some of those years when young children were being abducted for sale to childless couples and this could be the case. Maybe her captives or whomever she went with will tell her the truth or leave some message that will help her find her way back to you. She was old enough to have memories of her life with you, so she will have reason to find her way back, if possible. Miracles happen every day, so don't give up looking. With social media, word gets out to more people and she may even run across your posts. Praying for your success with the video and that she will return to you.

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  12. Awful, Just awful. Just seeing this, I felt a chill down my spine. How heartbreaking it is, having your child snatched up and never heard from again. I feel so sorry for you. I do hope you the very best. Even after nearly 30 years, I do believe if Jaycee Dugard was able to turn up, I don’t see why Michaela can’t either.

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  13. A co-worker recently lost his 3 year old daughter to cancer, and another coworker said it was the worst thing that could happen, your child dying. Yes, it's bad, but one thing is worse and that is your nightmare; your child missing and never knowing. As a mother, I understand why you can't quit looking and hoping, and speaking to her. I'm reading Michaela's story and praying for you both.

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  14. Hi Sharon, still praying for you and you are in my thoughts this Mother's Day. It must be so awful for you and no one can imagine the amount of pain you have been in. You're so so strong and your faith and patience is incredible.

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  15. I can't even imagine what that must have been like for Michaela and your entire family. I was only 1 year younger than your daughter at the time. I really hope you are able to find some answers as to what happened to your precious girl. Many prayers to you.

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  16. Dear Sharon,I just heard of your story and I just found your blog. Firt of all i wanted to tell you congratulations for the strength and patience you still have.Never stop believing, never stop hoping and never stop looking for your little girl. Everything happens for a reasson and God has a plan for all of us.I cant even imagine how hard it is for a mother to go through the situation you are going through so you have to be proud of yourself for still being here and fighting for justice.You and your baby are always in my thoughts and in my prayers!Love, Aylin

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  17. i remember this happening when I was just a teen. Still impacts me today especially now that I have my own kids. I always am leery when I see young kids walking around without visible adults. About 14 years ago, I was with my daughter at Kennedy park in Hayward. I noticed a pock faced white man in his 40’s with a video camera video taping two dark hispanic kids. At first, I thought it was an uncle or something until I noticed he was more focused on the girl that had a short skirt. He noticed me watching and put the camera down and slowly walked away. I still held the hope that it was an uncle until he was halfway to the parking lot from the play structure where we were at. I suddenly realized once I put the puzzle pieces together that I had a perv filming the 7-8 year old girl. I grabbed my daughter and ran to get a plate but by the time I got there he was gone. I found her parents and asked them if they even noticed the man by their kids… Not a clue. Needles to say I chewed out those poor parents in spanish. Later I came across the pic of the suspect in this case and I swear it looked like him but aged. Not sure if this helps in anyways but maybe a warning to other parents. There are evil ugly people out there just keep your eyes open

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  18. I grew up in Pleasanton, CA and was 8 at the time of the kidnapping. I remember when it happened and how scary it was. I pray for you all the time Sharon. I pray for Michaela’s return and for you to get some answers. My heart hurts for you. I will tie a yellow ribbon around a tree and keep praying for you and your family.

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