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. This story is so detailed and surreal I get a knot in my stomach reading it. I hope one day you are reunited with Michaela again. I wonder if the police have any DNA evidence at all or Fingerprints of the kidnapper?

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  2. This makes me so effing angry I'm so sorry you live with this every day I cry just thinking of what it must be like in your darkest hour. I hope someday you learn what happened if you don't see her in this life. If anything you will see her eventually I believe even if it's not on Earth (if you believe that stuff) hugs

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  3. They have used them over the years in a number of locations which were under suspicion for various reasons. But I don't think they used them in the beginning, because they are not able to track a scent once the victim is in a car, which we know Michaela was.

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  4. Sharon, Have the police continued to run this palm print throughout the years. You never know when it will show up in the data base. Whoever kidnapped Michaela most likely was a repeat offender, not only with kidnapping but with other crimes as well.

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  5. I guess a palm print is not like a finger print. Was there any surveillance at the store or in any other business along Mission Blvd or beyond.

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  6. Did anyone report seeing the car driving erratically down Mission Boulevard? Was someone holding Michaela down, or was she waving for help? There must be someone out there who saw something. The traffic on Mission Boulevard is heavy. Do you think a second person was involved? I googled “Meth use” and it said meth abusers develop severe acne/boils/pockmarks that can go away with time.

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  7. I don't remember how, but I stumbled across this blog a couple of months ago and have been checking back ever since. I feel in my heart that one day this case will be solved. I will keep you and Michaela in my prayers.

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  8. I am so sorry you and your family have gone through this horror. Just reading about it makes me cry and I'm so angry at whoever did this. I read about the bone fragment they found from your blog yesterday. I'm praying you finally get some answers. (hugs)

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  9. This is so horrible but your love for your daughter still is really remarkable. I hope for a miracle one day. Do you still talk to Trina?

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  10. Dear Sharon,I don't know what to say, or how to react. I am going to be a father soon (in about 6 months) so I think I start to understand what you have been going through and what you are going through up to now. I think you are doing a great job by posting your feelings and thus keeping the memory of Michaela alive. I sincerely hope she will be found! The one who did this does not deserve to live. I can not explain the anger I feel towards the person(s) who did this. We live in a freaky world……from the Netherlands……I feel your pain… :'(! Hang on Sharon! Hang on Michaela!

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  11. Hi Sharon, I recently heard that they are searching on the property of the Masonic Home off of Mission Blvd in Union City. Apparently they have a very strong lead about this. Is this true and has there been any progress?

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  12. Hi, I just found your blog. I can't imagine the pain and difficulties you've been through, and I can't say how much I feel sorry about this situation. We can't control many things in the world, but we have the right of believe and chose ways to follow, and thinking of it, I'll support you for what happened to you and your family, and I'll pray for all of you. There's is a song which says:”Theres is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain”.That's what I believe, that Jesus is real and is looking at you right now and that there's power in his name, to heal, to love, and break all kinds of chain.Love you in Christ Sharon,Alana

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  13. Heart breaking story. I'm so sorry this has happened to you and your family. I shed a tear as i was reading the article about the disappearance of Michaela. I sincerely hope that you and your daughter are re-united someday. I am not a parent but i do have a baby sister who is 5 years old and i would absolutely be suicidal if anything ever happened to her. Keep strong, and keep the faith, Never give up, good things happen to good people and i believe you are a a good person.Michaela is in our prayersFrom London, United kingdom

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  14. Hello Sharon, this has touched me, I have a daughter and she is 18 years old now, I know police in the States is very efficency, sometimes going back to little things can make a big difference, with technology now, maybe they can re-check the scooter and find more evidence. May God keep giving you strenght to keep looking for Michaela, I really admire you because I don't think I could do what you have done so far. I will pray for you and Michaela.From: San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

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  15. If they still have the partial palm print, they are now able to run it in a database. Palm prints can be just as unique as fingerprints! Best of luck and I'm so sorry you've had to endure this type of pain.

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  16. Praying for a miracle for your family. In such situations I can only think there is a God who KNOWS and CAN do anything. I just wish horrific creatures like the ones who kidnapped your daughter could be prevented from ever existing in the first place. Words fail me here – but I WILL pray.

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  17. Hello!I just came across your page and read your daughter´s story and your search for her, which has really moved me a lot. Being Austrian and a German native speaker, I thought I could support you by translating the “Wherever you may be” section into German for you: “Michaela wurde 1988 im Alter von neun Jahren entführt. Ich bin ihre Mutter und suche noch immer nach ihr. Falls Sie irgendwelche Informationen über Michaelas Aufenthalt haben, schreiben Sie bitte an missingmichaela@gmail.com.Michaela, falls du diese Nachricht hier liest sollst du wissen, dass ich dich für immer und ewig lieben werde, komme was wolle. Bitte, komm nach Hause zurück!”I hope I could help!Love,Ursula

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  18. Hi Sharon!I saw your interview and it melted my heart. I'm from Orlando, Florida and I want to help you in anything I can. I work at a radio station so I'll make sure to post it in the social medias etc. Also, I have a curious question. Where is Trina, have you spoke to her? Are there any details she remembers? I know she was a little girl as inocent as Michaela. My hearts goes out to you, so you can get your dauther back.

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  19. Trina lives in another state, is married and has two kids. I keep in touch with her and love her dearly. She does still help in any way she can with the investigation.Thanks, Tatianna.

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  20. As a Christian and a parent who has suffered the pain of losing a child…I can honestly say I understand….but then when I think about it…I was able to lay my 33 month old daughter to rest….I believe with all my heart that Michaela is alive..she just hasn't been able to let you know where she is….please know that my family and I continue to lift you and your family up in prayer…my churches at home as well as here in my adopted city of Calgary also conitnue to do so….I believe that when she finds the strength and courage to let someone know…that strength will be from the Father…and she will be able to stand up and tell someone..”here I am…I want to go home”.

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  21. I just came across your webpage I am so praying she comes up someday its never to late , i have 6 boys and so scared of the world we raise our kids in , I am praying for you dearly so sorry.is there help I can provide

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  22. I Pray God helps you too find her and get her back too you..from mother to mother i am so sorry and i pray for you and Michaela.. I had read her scooter was by a car..is there a color or model of that car ??

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  23. I am a mother of 3 daughters and a granny. I can't imagine the heartache and pain you have suffered all these years.:( I pray Michaela is somewhere alive and eventually will surface. Like the 3 girls in Ohio that were held prisoner for 10+ years,and of course Stacy Dugard and many others found years later alive.I admire your strength and determination,of course the love of a chilld creates that strength.<3 I live in Ca. and am apalled that our Governor is letting criminals out only to reoffend 😦 I hope the Hayward detectives keep on the case and again,I pray for Michaela's return.

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  24. Have they tried to reuse the palm print from the scooter with the newer technology we have now days, my sisters dad ended up in jail for 25yrs do to lack of evidence in the 80s/90s for something he didn't do now hes suing the state for false caricature & ruining his whole life

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  25. Didnt anyone see the guy take the scooter from the market if it was by the door where they left it someone had to have seen the man move it & where were the teen girls that they were also supposed to be with them at the market

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  26. I shared your daughter's picture on my Facebook. I was only vaguely familiar with her story because I was very, very young with she was first taken but I've now read up on it much more. I am a mother myself to two small boys and I sob every time I read a new post of yours or re-read her abduction story. I know this won't mean much, but I told my husband the other week that I find myself looking at everyone around me to see if they could possibly be her. I read Jaycee Dugard's book about how she would go in public and keep her head down and kept thinking that at any second someone was going to notice her and realize who she was. But no one noticed or saw. I am in Tennessee and I'm looking around me now. I hope she's safe and you get to hold her again. I would want someone to do the same for me.

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