HAYWARD, California (KCRA) -- A convicted killer has been arrested and charged with murder in the cold case of a 9-year-old San Francisco Bay Area girl abducted in 1988, law enforcement officials announced on Monday.
Michaela Joy Garecht was kidnapped in a Rainbow Market parking lot in Hayward while trying to retrieve a friend’s scooter that the abductor had moved closer to his vehicle, according to the FBI. Her case was featured on the nationally televised crime shows “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”
“Today is about family, community and healing,” Hayward Police Chief Toney Chaplin said in announcing the arrest of 59-year-old David Misch, an inmate at Santa Rita jail in Alameda County.
Chaplin called Garecht’s case “a tragic story that has gripped the Bay Area for decades.”
Hayward police, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the FBI said that Misch's palm print tied him to Garecht's disappearance. Misch has been behind bars since 1989 after being convicted of another murder. He is also awaiting trial for a 1986 double murder in Fremont, Chaplin said.
The breakthrough in the case came earlier this year as a result of new leads, officials said.
Garecht's body has never been found, but officials said they were hopeful now that her remains would be located.
“We hope this announcement will bring my Michaela’s family closer to the peace they deserve for so many years,” Chaplin said.
Chaplin read a statement from Garecht's mother during a news conference on Monday.
“In the last year I had to come to a place of accepting that Michaela was no longer alive. But somehow that acceptance was far more wrapped up in the idea of Michaela sitting on a fluffy, pink cloud, walking streets of gold, dancing on grassy hills, soaring among the stars,” the statement said. “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.”
She went on to say that she “feels lost in the dark” but "glad that there are answers."
The FBI had offered a $10,000 reward for information in the case. A wanted poster was updated with news of the arrest on Monday.
"The FBI and the Hayward Police Department continue to seek information from the public that would assist in locating Michaela," the poster says.
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