A convicted murderer has been charged with kidnapping and killing a 9-year-old girl who vanished from a California supermarket more than three decades ago, authorities said.
David Misch, 59, is set to be arraigned early Tuesday on murder and kidnapping charges in the cold case disappearance of Michaela Joy Garecht, who was kidnapped outside a Hayward supermarket just days before Thanksgiving in 1988, prosecutors said Monday.
“This crime shocked not just the local community, but the entire Bay Area and the nation,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement. “I hope that today’s action and announcement will provide some comfort to Michaela’s family in knowing that justice will prevail, even after 32 years since this horrible crime.”
Misch, who is currently in state prison for an unrelated 1989 murder of a woman near Hayward, is also suspected of killing two women in Fremont in 1986, O’Malley said.
Michaela’s body has not been found, but fingerprints on the scooter she was riding at the time of her abduction match those of Misch. An eyewitness also spotted him at the kidnapping scene on Nov. 19, 1988, O’Malley said.
Michaela and a friend went to a grocery store in Hayward and left their scooters outside while getting snacks. Minutes later, the youngsters came out and saw one of the scooters had been moved behind a parked car. The driver of the vehicle, whom authorities suspect was Misch, then forced the girl into the front seat and drove off, O’Malley said.
“There are no words that can adequately describe the horror of a kidnapped child,” the prosecutor told reporters at a press conference, KPIX reported. “Especially when the child or the child’s remains are never found … They were just kids.”
Misch could face the death penalty if convicted, the station reported.
Michaela’s mother, Sharon Murch, issued a statement Monday saying that she had “come to a place of accepting” that her daughter was no longer alive in the past year, CNN reported.
“Over the years, I have often wondered whether I really wanted to know the truth of what happened to Michaela,” Murch said. “I wondered if I would be able to take it. As I told our detective, I am glad that the kidnapper has been identified. I am glad that there are answers. I am glad that this man will never be able to hurt anyone else.”
Michaela’s father, meanwhile, said he hopes Misch reveals to authorities what happened to his daughter’s body.
“They’ve got a suspect they can grill and hopefully he’ll cough up wherever the body is,” Rod Garecht, 71, told KPIX on Monday.