30 year later, family of missing girl clings to hope

- A somber remembrance was held Sunday night for Michaela Garecht, who vanished three decades ago.

Garecht, who was nine years old at the time, was kidnapped from a supermarket parking lot in 1988.

More than 50 people gathered at New Hope Christian Church, not far from where Garecht was abducted.

Among those in attendance included family, friends, searchers and a childhood friend who was the sole witness to her kidnapping.

Katrina Hogue who traveled from Texas sang a song for her friend. Hogue last saw Garecht before she was abducted by a stranger. “I watched the car back out,” said Hogue. “I watched him start to drive Mission Boulevard. That's when I ran inside.”

Back on November 19, 1988, the best friends were leaving the Rainbow Market in Hayward when Garecht went back to retrieve a scooter and that’s when Hogue heard her scream.

Garecht was placed inside a car and taken away. “Something I’ve struggled with for the past three decades has been this survivor's guilt trying to come to some sort of reconciliation, I’m here and she's not,” said Hogue.

Ribbons on a tree mark the spot where Garecht was kidnapped. Her mother said those ribbons are a symbol of love, beaten and worn down but never dies. “I’m just hoping by doing this one more time,” said Mother Sharon Murch. “We will somehow be able to reach out to Michaela.”

Thirty years later, the investigation is ongoing. Garecht’s mother is seeking answers after several potential breaks from possible ties to the Jaycee Dugard case to the Speed Freak Killers have turned up nothing.

“I told the police department,” said Murch. “I didn't want to know everything that was going on. They should tell me when they have the answers.”

Hayward Police refuse to call it a cold case following up on thousands of leads. As for Murch, she vows she will never give up.

“As long as I don't know whether she's alive or not,” said Murch. “I have to act she is because she might be and if she is, she might need my help. She might need someone out there looking for her.”

Murch said she does a remembrance every year in hopes to remind people Garecht is still missing.

She knows someone has information and she's hoping that person will have the heart to come forward.

Anyone with information about the kidnapper can contact investigators at 1-800-222-3999 or mgtips@hayward-ca.gov.

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