Michaela Garecht: 25 years ago today

Two people have pointed out to me that it’s a quarter-century to the day since Michaela Garecht was abducted from a grocery store parking lot in Hayward, California. She’s never been seen since. Maybe if we had had Amber Alerts back then the outcome would have been different.

Michaela’s mother has a blog here and she’s working on a novel based on her daughter’s kidnapping. She believes Michaela is may be still alive and may have been taken out of the country.

22 thoughts on “Michaela Garecht: 25 years ago today

  1. Karen November 20, 2013 / 12:47 am

    I dont mean to sound insensitive but I think her daughter is deceased. I feel at some point she needs to move on and not obsess. She has other children and I cant help but wonder if they have felt ignored in some way.

    • Celeste November 20, 2013 / 1:57 pm


      Machela’s mother has every right to obsess over this. Her oldest child isn’t with her. When your child is missing then you can say “move on” but untill it’s your child don’t be so judgemental.

  2. Shannon November 20, 2013 / 1:29 am

    Karen who are you to say such a thing. Based on what evidence? It is insensitive and a completely unacceptable thing to say. You realize Sharon (Michaela’s mother) will read this at some point don’t you? Keep your ignorant opinion to yourself.

  3. jaclyn November 20, 2013 / 1:32 am

    Until you have lost a child, you can not possibly know how someone feels. Karen, you mean well, but it definitely is insensitive to speculate about how her other children are, and whether she is obsessing. If you follow her blog, you will see how her other children are doing, actually. I lost a child, and one can nurture and care for their other children, while also caring about the the loss of a child. A child is just a part of one’s own flesh, and one never ever gets over it, at least most people that I know. I can move on in a very different way, and I am able to love my other children, it is just very different…for everyone, even my other children.

  4. unprettyprincess November 20, 2013 / 6:26 am

    I personally believe that she is deceased as well but there is no evidence to prove it… And her mother is so strong to keep hope and follow any lead she can.

  5. Mion November 20, 2013 / 7:45 am

    I think Karen is likely correct in thinking Michaela is no longer with us. Most children who are victims of non-family abductions are killed within the first few hours, especially when it’s such a brazen abduction (this was in broad daylight in a public place in front of other people). Long-term stranger abduction cases like Jaycee Dugard and Shawn Hornbeck are *extremely* rare.

    But I DO think it Karen could’ve phrased it differently because it definitely was insensitive. The problem with missing persons cases is that you CAN’T ”move on”. The ”what-ifs” are torturous, you may blame yourself for what happened, you don’t know what happened, you’re reminded of your loss whenever the family gathers for a holiday dinner and there’s an empty seat at the table. Even if you’re convinced the person is dead, you still get the sneaking ”what-ifs” and the worst part is that you still don’t know what happened and you still don’t have a place to go to (a grave/headstone) to go to so you can honor them, talk to them, etc.

    You don’t just give up on looking for your child, no matter how many days, weeks, months, years or decades it takes. It’s not ”obsessing” unless you’re harassing people, going on witch hunts, you’re neglecting basic things (your family, hygiene etc.), all that stuff. My family would probably be 1000x more obsessed than you say Michaela’s mom is, because there’s NO way they wouldn’t grab a backpack, pack a bunch of water bottles and sandwiches, and scour every square inch of the state and talk to every single person they come by in the entire STATE, if I were to go missing. And I’d do the same for them and would not stop until I find them.

    (Also – Karen, here’s a piece of advice from me to you. Remove ”I don’t mean to sound ___, but” from your vocabulary. Whenever a person uses it, they’re almost certainly about to say something horribly offensive – kinda like ”I don’t mean to sound sexist, but I think that women are too stupid to deserve the right to vote”. If you feel the need to preface your point ”I don’t mean to sound ___, but” then you really should rephrase what you’re going to say. Especially when talking about someone who’s gone through something horrible, whether it be a rape or murder or missing child. We don’t know what Michaela’s poor mom is going through.)

  6. Abra November 20, 2013 / 7:47 am

    Having lost a child myself and knowing how truly devastating it is, I cannot not imagine the pain of not knowing. With no concrete evidence either way I can completely understand why her mom would hold on to the believe she is still alive.

  7. Sharon Murch November 20, 2013 / 8:35 am

    Hi there. I am Sharon, Michaela’s mom. I have tried to explain this before, but it is NOT that I think Michaela is still alive. I am well aware that she could be deceased. However, I cannot give up on looking for her and reaching out for her, because IF she is still alive, she NEEDS me to keep doing that. There have been many kidnap victims found many years after they have been kidnapped. Those girls Ariel Castro had captive were suffering terribly, and were in desperate need of people to not give up on them.

    I have had several leads in the last few years that place Michaela out of the country. The leads have come from odd places, distant countries where you’d be surprised anybody was even thinking about Michaela. So yes, I do believe it is possible, and I keep a blog to reach out to her in hopes that if she is still alive she will see it and it will perhaps give her the strength to escape, or even the strength to go on.

    In recent years, I have not heard of too many long-missing being found dead, but I have heard of quite a number of them being found alive. Nobody can say it doesn’t happen. So until someone shows me proof that my daughter has moved on from this world to somewhere safe, I will keep looking for her and keep reaching out to her. That is was mothers do.

    • Kat November 20, 2013 / 6:36 pm

      Nicely put. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge how another parent would/will/should act. I don’t think any of us truly know. It is also hard to know the true situation when we weren’t there over the last twenty five years. I remember seeing Morgan Nick’s mother many times over the years in interviews and she has a similar mindset. Thank you for having the courage to post here, and know that all the CP fans are behind you and support you.

  8. Holly November 20, 2013 / 9:12 pm

    As a mother, I can say, it wouldn’t matter if my daughter was dead or alive, I would never stop searching for her. Not her remains, not her alive or dead – but HER. You never give up on your child. I would walk this world over a billion times to find her to bring her home. Something that I could visit. It is not for anyone to say if Michaela is alive or gone. Many people have not given up on finding her, keeping that hope alive. Even people who have lost a child and have known where their child is, never give up on their child, as a memory, as a person, because their child is still a person. They were a living breathing person who left a legacy and many memories that can never be erased. A mother will never give up on finding her child.

  9. Miranda November 21, 2013 / 12:12 am

    I can understand never giving up hope to find them still here or not. But I also know the other side. I have a family member whomever son was abducted at the age of 13, and she spent 25 yrs and every minute of every day on trying to find him, but her other children suffered and paid the price. People sometimes forget the other kids are still there.

    • Miranda November 21, 2013 / 12:13 am

      Sorry this should say my friend has a family member whom’s son was abducted.

    • Sharon Murch November 21, 2013 / 9:56 am

      I honestly don’t know how a person could spend all day every day searching for a long-missing child. Perhaps because of the nature of the case, my search involves keeping a blog and reaching out through social media, not quite a full-time occupation. I have four other children and they are what has kept me alive and given me joy for the last 25 years. They are all young adults now, and are wonderful human beings whose company I enjoy immensely. I know that each and every one of them supports my continued efforts to reach out to their sister, first because they love her, and second because they know that I will always be there for them, and will never give up on them, whatever the circumstances.

      • Kat D November 21, 2013 / 10:42 am

        I think you are a very strong and brave lady. There is another story coming out of London this morning, something about 3 women that were being held captive for 30 years. Not much info on it yet, its still evolving.

      • Lee Atwater November 21, 2013 / 5:05 pm

        Sharon, you seem like a lovely person and a wonderful mother. I hope your efforts will help find Michaela.

  10. Janessa November 21, 2013 / 12:24 am

    I believe in a mother’s instinct. I am studying human trafficking (actually, I’m working on a research segment of Americans being sold into sex slavery in America), and you would be shocked at how fast the pimps can move the girls. A survivor wrote a letter to Craigslist (show on PolarisProject.org), that she was trafficked by a man who would make $1,500 dollars a night from her. He had so much money, he had her in a different city every night-Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock and Las Vegas all within just weeks. These girls get moved fast, and can be ANYWHERE in the world!
    Human trafficking is a less risky crime then moving drugs because it is a lot harder to uncover and prosecute versus say cocaine or meth being uncovered.
    Although runaways tend to be the biggest targets, studies also show children are a preferred choice for pimps for a variety of reasons. One, they carry less of a risk then using an adult. They are easier to move around and move out of the country. It is also easier to control children. Pimps take them young while they are mentally developing, and break them down so by adult hood, they are in full compliance with their captors, sometimes even helping them round up other girls.
    Children are also not only in more of a demand in this sick, fast-growing business, but they also make their pimps more money. In the case of one girls story from endslaverytn.org, every time she was with a John, she made her pimp $400, which is a lot more then even an older teen girl. The average age of girls trafficked are 12-14 years old, and the girls are expected to make a quota of $500-$2,000 on average a night for their pimps.
    Websites like Backpage or Craigslist are the tops ways for “Johns” to buy girls-especially young girls. Pimps will sometimes use fake pictures of young girls to make them look older, even though they are not. They use code words that will hint to John’s the woman advertised is actually a young girl.
    It’s a sick, twisted act . If you go to womensfundingnetwork.org , you can actually look up state-by-state cases, police reports and stats of sex trafficking of minors in your state. I looked at my state, and I was shocked. Therefore, statistics may say Michaela is no longer with us, being missing for 25 years, but if she was taken for human trafficking, there is a chance she is alive, having been moved country to country to avoid detection. I hope she is found!

  11. Noreen sadiq November 22, 2013 / 4:10 am

    The drawing of the suspect who kidnapped Michaela, is also one of the suspects who took johnny gosch. If you look at both Noreen gosch’s website and Sharon’s website both the same picture. So I think that it is somehow linked…

    • Sharon Murch November 22, 2013 / 3:31 pm

      I do not think they are linked. Someone used a color composite created for Michaela’s investigation to identify the getaway driver, Tony, in Johnny’s abduction. However, the color composite was created by a police officer’s wife without input from the eyewitness, and the eyewitness doesn’t actually think it’s very accurate. A did speak to a private detective working on the Gosch case many years ago and he said there was no indication of any little girls being involved.

  12. Jan Z November 22, 2013 / 3:07 pm

    Of the Cleveland three, Amanda and Gina’s families held rallies for them every year. Michelle Knight’s family didn’t do anything and she was reminded of this every time she watched these rallies with Amanda and Gina on TV and when her captor viciously reminded her of this, telling her how unloved she was. Not only that, but when the three found freedom, Michelle’s name was not even on anybody’s radar as a missing person. Everything that Sharon says makes sense when viewed from Michelle’s POV. If your child (any missing child) IS alive somewhere, you want her to know that you never stopped believing in her, searching for her, loving her. I pray that Michaela is one of the few out there who will be found alive. Never, ever give up.

  13. William November 22, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    Great point Jan.

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