Left and Center: Michaela circa, 1988
Right: Age Progressed to age 33
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: November 19, 1988
Missing From: Hayward, Alameda County, California
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: January 24, 1979
Age: 9 years old
Height and Weight: 4’8″ and 75 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: White Female, Blonde hair, Blue eyes, Michaela has prominent ears which are pierced, her eyes slant slightly downward, her teeth were slightly mottled at the time of her 1988 abduction, her hair color might darken as she ages and she might have grown tall in adulthood as all of her siblings are tall, Michaela might need vision correction currently, her nickname is Kayla
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white t-shirt with “Metro” printed on the front and images of people imprinted across the midsection of the shirt, a pair of denim pants rolled above her knees, flesh colored nylon stockings, a pair of white anklet socks, black cloth shoes with brown plastic soles, Michaela was last known to be wearing a pair of 3-inch long pearl or white colored earrings that resembled feathers
NCMEC Number: 717172
Details of Disappearance
Michaela was abducted from Hayward, California on November 19th 1988. During that morning, she and her best friend, Katrina Rodriguez, rode their scooters to the Rainbow Market located on Mission Boulevard. This was approximately two blocks away from Michaela’s residence at the time.
The two girls went to the store to purchase candy and then came back outside to get their scooters and go home. Michaela noticed that one of the scooters was moved in the parking lot and was near a parked vehicle. As Michaela went to retrieve it, an unidentified man came out of the vehicle and grabbed Michaela. He forced her into his car as she screamed.
Katrina witnessed the whole thing and ran back into the Rainbow Market to get help. The police were called but it was too late, the man and Michaela were both gone. The abductor managed to escape with Michaela. Katrina was able to describe Michaela’s abductor to police and they created a sketch of him.
Michaela’s abductor is described as being a Caucasian male with dirty blonde hair which was shoulder length at the time. The man was between 18 and 24 years of age in 1988 and had fox like eyes. He had a slender build and was wearing a white t-shirt at the time of Michaela’s abduction. He also had a distinctive face which was pockmarked and had acne.
The mans vehicle was described as being a large older model American Sedan. It might’ve been a four door vehicle and was cream, gold, or tan in color. The front bumper of the vehicle was battered and the car seemed run down. The vehicle may have been in a previous car accident. There were possible cement splatters on the side and lights appeared to be set into the rear bumper. The vehicle was last seen speeding south on Mission Boulevard towards Union City.
Investigators made a sketch of the man immediately following Michaela’s abduction based off Katrina’s witness account. The sketch was later revised on December 5th 1988 when an artist, Valerie Stewart, was asked by police to make a more lively looking sketch of the suspect out of oil painting. She had Katrina with her to help with it. Michaela’s abductor was not identified for years after her disappearance.
Michaela’s mother, Sharon, has been searching for Michaela since her abduction in 1988 and has hope she is still alive. During the initial investigation, authorities received thousands of leads in her abduction and continue to receive them annually. While her abductor hasn’t been identified, there have been multiple suspects named in Michaela’s case.
Investigators believed Michaela’s abduction might’ve be connected to others that occurred before and after she disappeared in other places of the Bay Area. On June 3rd 1988, Amber Jean Swartz-Garcia disappeared from the front yard of her residence in Pinole, California. She was never seen or heard from again and it’s speculated she was taken as she played with a jump rope which also disappeared with her.
On January 30th 1989, Ilene Beth Misheloff was allegedly kidnapped by unknown individuals as she walked home from school in Dublin, California. She was the oldest of the abducted children, she was 13 years old. Her backpack which she was carrying was later found in an area that had already been searched. This leads investigators to suspect her abductor(s) likely placed it there sometime afterwards.
On February 4th 1989, 14 year old Alecia Christopherson was practicing her color guard routines with a wooden baton in the parking lot of the Cherrywood Apartment complex on Decoto Road in Union City, California. She noticed that a man jogged past her twice before he came up behind her and grabbed her in an attempt to abduct her. Alecia used self defense moves to wrench herself free of the man and ran to her parents apartment.
Alecia had been taught to fight back against anyone who tried to subdue her so she was well prepared for what the man had done to her. Investigators searched for the man by feet and helicopter but found no sign of Alecia’s assailant. The man was described as being approximately 30 years old in 1989. He stood at 6’0″ and weighed between 190 and 200 pounds.
The man had shoulder length and curly blonde hair as well as a blonde mustache. The man looked as though he had been in the sun. He was reportedly wearing a green baseball cap, a white long sleeved sweat shirt with “Athletics” written on it in green lettering. He was also wearing green sweatpants as well as blue and white tennis shoes.
Investigators have noted that the man sought in Alecia’s case bears a similar description to the man who abducted Michaela just two months earlier. The attempted abduction also took place in Union City, California which is where Michaela’s abductor drove towards after taking her. It’s unknown if the man who tried taking Alecia had anything to do with the other abductions but he remains unidentified.
On December 27th 1991, Amanda Nicole Eileen Campbell was last seen in Fairfield, California. She was riding her bicycle to a friends house when she was presumably abducted by a stranger. Her bicycle was later found but she wasn’t. She has never been seen or heard from since 1991. She was 4 years old at the time of her presumed abduction.
Several people have emerged as suspects in all of these cases. Timothy Bindner quickly emerged as a possible suspect due to his odd behavior following each abduction. Just three days after Amber Swartz-Garcia went missing, he went to Amber’s house and spoke with her mother, Kim. He told her he was searching the woods nearby for her daughter.
Kim recalls Bindner saying “I wanted to be the one who saved her.” “I wanted to be the one to bring her home to you.” Kim said she wanted nothing to do with Bindner after he said they were “looking for a dead body.” But he was persistent and continued to offer his assistance in searching for Amber after her presumed abduction.
After Michaela was abducted, Bindner showed up to the home of Michaela where he talked with Sharon. He asked her if he could help her find her missing daughter. He said he wanted to go out and look for Michaela and he even brought a map and showed the locations he wanted to go to.
After Amanda Campbell went missing in 1991, Bindner’s name once again resurfaced in all the cases. Just months before she was taken, a couple in her neighborhood contacted police and told them that their 12 year old daughter was receiving odd mail. The mail was written backwards so it could only be read in a mirror.
The letter was from Bindner and it turned out that he was writing to a lot of young girls and often sent them birthday greetings. He told authorities he did this because all the girls seemed lonely. He was questioned by Pinole Police after he was seen repeatedly visiting the grave of 5 year old Angela Jane Bugay in Oakmont Cemetery.
Angela was abducted from her apartment complex in Antioch, California. She shared the apartment with her mother and brother at the time of her abduction. A few days later, Angela’s remains were found in a shallow grave located in a nearby field. She had been sexually assaulted and suffocated to death. Her murderer was not identified at the time.
Bindner repeatedly denied any involvement in all the cases he was linked to and said he had never met any of the missing girls before their abductions. He stated he was deeply affected by all the cases and wanted to try and help in any way he could. However, his constant presence in these cases were not the only noticeable things that popped up in the investigations.
Bindner once wrote a letter to law enforcement and speculated that the next child to be abducted would be 9 years old. Soon afterwards, Michaela was abducted from Hayward. On another occasion, Bindner sent a Christmas card to a FBI profiler with an image of a little girl holding up 4 fingers. Shortly after this, Amanda Campbell was abducted at 4 years old.
Police bloodhounds also picked up the scent of Amber Swartz-Garcia at the grave of Angela Bugay. This was a red flag since Bindner often visited the gravesite, some agencies say he went to that location up to 90 times a year. Police dogs later traced the scent of Amanda Campbell to Angela’s grave.
Investigators in the Campbell case questioned Bindner and he was named a suspect in the missing persons case in 1992. Investigators were considering pressing charges against Bindner for kidnapping but bloodhound evidence is too unreliable to be presented as evidence in a court or trial. ￼
A Mercury News Reporter wanted to interview Bindner about the cases. He accepted her offer but requested to be interviewed at Oakmont Cemetery in the middle of the night. She picked him up at 4:30 am and he asked to play his favorite song on the car radio. The song was “Jesus, Here’s Another Child to Hold.” They drove to the cemetery per the request.
The reporter asked him why he was so concerned over the missing girls. He replied that he saw them as his old children. He stated he cried for them, prayed for them, and that he spent a lot of his time thinking about them and dedicated himself to finding them. He then said something that came as shock.
Binder was asked what he thought happened to the girls when they were taken. He replied “Well, you know, one of them was sweet and shy and didn’t say a thing, but the other went kicking and screaming.'” Then, she said, he added, “‘I’m just guessing that that’s what they would have said.'” The reporter said she got chills.
Investigators and the families of the girls believe Bindner was toying with them. He noticeably went out of his way to convince the reporter that he was involved in the abductions of the girls. At the urging of police, Kim Swartz-Garcia formed a friendship with Bindner in an effort to learn more about her daughters disappearance.
She agreed that it all seemed like a game to him. She believes he got off on taunting her and her family. At his suggestion, Kim read a book called “Crime and Punishment” in which the character who keeps showing up turns out to be the man who committed the crime in question.
Bindner has called himself a “Good Samaritan” and said he was simply trying to find the missing girls. In 1989, Bindner was given a reward of heroism by the California Highway Patrol for assisting in the rescue efforts after the earthquake. He maintains his innocence in the cases. He even won a defamation of character lawsuit against Amanda Campbells hometown for $90,000.
Investigators believe Bindner might have also been involved in the presumed abduction of Tara Lossett Cossey who went missing from San Pedro, California on June 6th 1979. She left her residence to go but sugar for her mother and never returned. There’s no evidence that Bindner is involved in this case but due to the proximity in location and time period, he is being investigated in the case.
Bindner was considered a suspect in Angela Bugay’s abduction and murder for over a decade after her death until authorities uncovered her true killer. In 1995, DNA testing revealed a semen sample found on Angela’s body belonged to a 44 year old man, Larry Graham. He was arrested for Angela’s murder and charged in April of 1996.
Larry once dated Angela’s mother and had a history of sexual offenses against children. He was their neighbor at the time of Angela’s murder. In 2003, Larry was convicted of killing Angela and was sentenced to death for the crime. He took his own life in his jail cell in 2009. He is not considered a suspect in the other cases.
Investigators at one point believed the cases were connected to another missing California girl. On June 10th 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard left her residence in South Lake Tahoe, California to go and wait at the bus stop for her school bus to pick her up. Jaycee was abducted by an unidentified couple who pulled her into a car and sped off. She was 11 years old at the time of her abduction.
Jaycee’s female abductor was described as being a 32 years old in 1991 who stood at 5’5″. The woman had long black hair with a dark complexion. The vehicle that was used in the abduction was described as a late model 1980 gray Ford Sedan. Jaycee’s abductors remained unidentified for many years after her witnessed abduction.
James Anthony Daveggio has been considered a possible suspect in all the abductions for many years, including Jaycee’s. He along with his girlfriend, Michelle Michaud, were charged with the abduction, rape, and murder of Vanessa Lei Swanson in 1997. Swansons body was discovered just 5 miles away from where Jaycee was taken years earlier.
Both were previously charged with a few counts of sexual assault in unrelated cases in the mid-1990s. They were both convicted of killing Vanessa in 2002 and were sentenced to death for their crimes. Investigators interviewed them both about Jaycee’s disappearance and Michaud claimed she met Daveggio in 1996 so she couldn’t have abducted Jaycee.
However, Jaycee’s stepfather Carl Probyn who witnessed her abduction said that Michaud matches the description of the woman who grabbed Jaycee. There were striking similarities between the two of them. However, federal investigators created a timeline which tracked Daveggio and Michaud’s whereabouts over the 1980s and 1990s and this information deemed it unlikely that they and abducted Jaycee.
On August 26th 2009, Jaycee was found alive and safe in Antioch, California. She had been abducted by a sex offender, Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy. She was held captive in their backyard for 18 years and was isolated so she was unaware of the widespread search for her and the two people who took her.
Jaycee was sexually abused and raped while held captive and gave birth to two girls while being held. She and her daughters have since been reunited with Jaycee’s mother, Terry Probyn. After Jaycee’s rescue, investigators noticed similarities between Jaycee’s abduction and the abduction of Michaela. They both had similar appearances.
Garrido was previously convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in 1976. He abducted her from South Lake Tahoe, California and took her to Reno, Nevada. His photo from that time matches the sketch of Michaela’s abductor. He had long hair and prominent cheek bones which bore a striking resemblance to Michaela’s abductor.
Investigators also located a car on Garrido’s property that matches the one that snatched up Michaela years earlier. In 1988, Garrido resided in a halfway house in Oakland which was a short distance drive away from the store that Michaela was taken from.
Investigators searched the Garrido property for evidence and possible links to a string of homicides that occurred in the 1990s. Investigators also looked into the possibility that Garrido abducted Michaela and buried her in his backyard but found no evidence. He was also looked at in relation to Ilene Misheloff’s abduction and the property was searched.
During one of the searches, investigators found a small bone fragment. The bone was tested for any viable DNA evidence but none was found and investigators concluded the remains belonged to an ancient Native American burial site. Sharon called the police following Jaycee’s recovery and noticed the similarities in the cases as well.
Katrina also called Sharon after seeing the searches of Garrido’s property and saw an old dirty car that sat on his property. She said it looked just like the one that was used in Michaela’s abduction. Investigators questioned Dugard about the other missing girls but she didn’t recall seeing any other children in the Garrido home. Investigators have found no evidence that the Garrido’s were involved in the other cases.
In January of 1993, investigators interviewed a man who was in prison in Indiana. Roger Haggard was serving an 11 year sentence for burglary, escape, and theft charges. He has previously claimed he had information on Michaela’s whereabouts in the past but this time he became more specific with his statements in the case.
Haggard was in Hayward from 1988 to 1989 after escaping an Indiana prison. He claimed he met a man named Slam Davidson at a Sports bar. He told investigators that after this, Davidson showed Haggard Michaela’s body. Haggard said he went to a gladiola field where Davidson buried her body in a shallow grave.
Investigators have found no evidence that Haggard’s statements are true and Michaela’s body was never found. Investigators aren’t even sure if Michaela is dead or alive but due to passage of time, they suspect she’s either deceased or is being held against her will.
In 2012, investigators named two men as suspects in Michaela’s abduction. The two men, Loren Joseph Herzog and Wesley Howard Shermantine, were known as the “Speed Freak Killers” and they went on a killing spree from 1984 up until 1999. They are suspected of killing more than 20 people during the 15 years they killed.
They were both charged with killing 35 year old Howard King and 31 year old Paul Raymond Cavanaugh. They were both drifters who were shot to death and found in a car on a remote road on Roberts Island. They were found on November 27th 1984. Authorities found tire tracks at the scene of the murders but initially couldn’t identify them.
Herzog was also accused of the murder of 41 year old Henry Howell of Santa Clara, California. He was found shot to death on Highway 88 near Hope Valley in September of 1984. He was additionally accused of murdering Roberta Armtrout. She was 24 years old when her nude body was found in September of 1985.
Roberta had been stabbed a dozen times and her body was found on the east bank of Potter Creek near Linden, California. In 1999, investigators charged Shermantine with killing 16 year old Chevelle Yvonne Wheeler. She disappeared from Franklin High School in Stockton, California on October 16th 1985. She was observed getting into a red pickup truck with him.
Investigators suspected him of involvement in Chevelle’s case for many years but didn’t have enough evidence to file criminal charges and her body was never found. That all changed in 1999. In 1985, investigators searched Shermantine’s family cabin and found hair and blood drops. DNA testing proved they belonged to Chevelle.
Shermantine and Herzog were also charged with killing Cynthia Vanderheiden who disappeared on November 14th 1998 from Clements, California. She was last seen at a bar with a methamphetamine-fueled Herzog and Shermantine. Investigators searched Shermantine’s vehicle after Cynthia disappeared. They found her blood on the head rest in the trunk of the vehicle.
Herzog said he and Shermantine met Cynthia at a cemetery after the three left the bar. While the three of them were driving back to Linden, California, Shermantine pulled out a knife and ordered her to perform oral sex. Shermantine then stopped the car near Waverly Road and raped Cynthia before slitting her throat.
Investigators also suspect the two men might’ve been involved in other missing persons cases. Ruth Ann Leamon was last seen in Modesto, California on August 19th 1982. She was last seen leaving her residence after telling her legal guardian that she was going to purchase a soft drink. Ruth was acquainted with Herzog at the time of her presumed abduction. She was 16 when she disappeared.
Investigators also believe they might’ve been involved in the abduction of Susan Robin Bender. She was 15 years old when she disappeared from Modesto, California on April 25th 1986. She was last seen getting into a van outside of a greyhound bus station. She was never seen again. Investigators are unsure if Bender knew the men before her abduction.
Sylvia Lourdes Standly was last seen in Modesto, California on June 3rd 1986. She was last seen getting into a blue or green truck. She had just been released from the Stanislaus County Women’s facility on a drug charge. She called her family and told them she would get a ride from her boyfriend who her family did not know at the time.
They’ve also been investigated in the disappearance of Gayle Marks. She was 18 years old when she disappeared from Stockton, California on October 18th 1988. She was last seen after leaving the DMV to get an identification card. She called her mother and left a message. Nothing sounded amiss in the message. Investigators have not declared why they think the two men were involved in Gayles case.
The two men are also suspected of killing Phillip Cabot Lloyd Martin. Martin was 47 years old when he disappeared from Stockton, California on September 30th 1993. He failed to pick up his daughters from school that day. He wasn’t reported missing until October 11th of the same year. Phillip worked with Shermantine and his daughter picked him out of a photo lineup. She believes Phillip used drugs with the two men before his disappearance.
In 2001, Shermantine was convicted of killing Cynthia Vanderheiden, Chevelle Wheeler, Howard King, and Paul Cavanaugh. He was sentenced to death for the four murders and is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. In 1999, Herzog was charged with killing Cynthia, Howard, Paul, Henry Howell, and Roberta Ray Armtrout. He was found guilty of killing Cynthia, Paul, and Howard. He was convicted of being an accessory to Howells murder and was acquitted of Roberta’s murder.
Herzog was sentenced to 78 years in prison for his crimes. His sentence was eventually reduced to 14 years after the court ruled at least three of his confessions were coerced. He was paroled in 2010. He took his own life in 2012. He did so after he was informed that Shermantine was doing to lead authorities to where some of their victims were buried.
In February of 2010, Shermantine wrote a letter to his sister, Barbara, in which he detailed the locations of some of his victims. He stated the the remains were located in an abandoned well on Flood Road near Linden, California. She turned these letters over to the police who followed up on the lead. They interviewed the property owner who said the wells were sealed up before any of the victims went missing.
Investigators took no further action regarding the lead. However, in February of 2012, Shermantine drew a map which led to the same well in Linden, California after he was promised $30,000 for the information. Investigators unsealed the well and searched it. They found over 1,000 human bones in the well which were then sent in for testing and identification.
On March 30th 2012, investigators announced that two sets of remains were identified. The remains belonged to two teenagers who disappeared from Stockton, California in the mid-1980s. Kimberly Ann Billy was 19 years old when she went missing on December 11th 1984. She wasn’t a suspected victim until her remains were found in the well.
Joann Hobson was 16 years old when she was abducted on August 29th 1985. Shermantine previously wrote a letter to Hobson’s mother and detailed where her daughters body was buried. Investigators also located the remains of an unidentified African American female who was pregnant when she died. Fetal remains were found with her remains.
Investigators also began to search for two possible burial sites in Calaveras County, California in February of 2012 based off information from a letter Shermantine sent in. He indicated sites near a former property owned by his parents. Investigators searched these two sites and found the remains of Chevelle Wheeler. She was buried on the former property.
Investigators located a human skull in a ravine near his former property which was later identified as belonging to Cynthia Vanderheiden. In 2012, Shermantine confessed to detectives that Loren Herzog abducted and killed Michaela back in 1988. Herzog was living near the are at the time and he matched the description of the man who abducted Michaela.
Shermantine claimed that Michaela’s body had been buried on the same property where Kimberly Billy and Joann Hobson were located. Investigators who analyzed the remains and contents found a human bone fragment that appeared to come from a child in between the ages of 5 and 13. The fragment was tested but it turned out to not belong to Michaela.
Since 2012, there have been multiple allegations that the San Joaquins Sheriffs Office stonewalled the investigation into the Speed Freak Killer case. It’s been alleged that they have been uncooperative with other agencies who have cases that might be linked to the killers and they may have been complicit in destroying evidence related to these cases.
In 2010, Shermantine wrote a letter to California State Senator Cathleen Galgiani regarding the locations of addition victims whom were still missing at the time. Cathleens cousin, Dena McHan, was 19 years old when she disappeared from Stockton, California on December 6th 1981. It’s unknown if Shermantine or Herzog had any involvement in the case.
In 2012, Cathleen utilized and sponsored the use of taxpayer funds to search for additional victims of the killers. She also sought to make it possible for incarcerated persons such as Shermantine to help search for victims. Cathleen turned the letter from him over to authorities and alleged that the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Office deleted missing persons records that were related to the killers.
Joan Shelley filed a lawsuit against the sheriffs office and alleged that they mishandled the remains of the victims found in the Linden well. Joan is the mother of Joann Hobson. She stated that the sheriffs office ordered the remains be dug up using earth moving equipment. They did not use archeological equipment which could’ve helped collect the remains in a much better fashion.
Joan alleged that the equipment used destroyed and crushed the remains in the well. Months after the 2012 excavation, sheriff Moore’s office gave her the remains that were mixed up with other remains. Their negligence with recovering the remains made it impossible for the families of the victims to give them a proper burial.
Sue Kizer has also criticized the way the recovery efforts and the case in general was handled. She’s the mother of Gayle Marks. Kizer said she contacted the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Office after hearing that they were unearthing remains to see if her daughter might be among those buried in the well. She accused Moore and the police of giving her the cold shoulder on the matter.
Sue was quoted saying “Sheriff Moore has a dangerous lack of empathy, and the fact that he treated me so disrespectfully was very disturbing and hurtful.” She also brought up how a detective investigating Michaela’s abduction was treated the same way by the police and an investigator in Reno, Nevada who believes a missing person might be victim of the killers was treated the same way.
Sue has stated that the sheriff utilizing the county Public Works Department to excavate the wells was “just stupid.” She also noted that there were colleges in the area that would’ve helped the excavation for free. She says filling in the well and then bulldozing over it has likely crushed any other remains that were down there.
She believes the sheriffs office has made it impossible for her to know if Gayles remains are down there or not. It’s unlikely any other remains are recoverable from the bottom of the well. Multiple other people have accused sheriff Moore of being the obstacle in solving the remaining cases of the duos victims.
Sharon and the Hayward Police have also accused the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Office of mishandling the joint investigation into the killers possible connection to Michaela’s abduction. According to a Hayward detective, he was told by a San Joaquin Sheriffs deputy that they might’ve found possible evidence relating to Michaela at the bottom of the well.
Among the items recovered from the well was a pair of Mary Jane Shoes. These shoes were similar to the ones that Michaela was wearing at the time of her 1988 abduction. According to Sharon and the detective, the San Joaquins County Sheriffs Office refused to show them the shoes or even photographs of them. A legal motion was filed regarding this but it’s unknown what came of it. The killers remain strong suspects in the case.
Curtis Dean Anderson was named as a possible suspect in Michaela’s abduction in the years after it occurred. He is suspected of killing at least eight children throughout the United States. On December 9th 1999, he abducted 7 year old Xiana Fairchild from Vallejo, California. She disappeared while walking to catch the school bus.
Fairchild’s skull was found in the Los Gatos hills 14 months after her abduction. He was a suspect in her disappearance for some time after he kidnapped an eight year old girl from Vallejo, California while she walked home from school. She managed to escape captivity. He was arrested for kidnapping and killing Xiana in 2004. He was convicted of killing her and was sentenced to over 300 years in prison.
In 2009, investigators announced that Curtis confessed to abducting and killing Amber Swartz-Garcia in June of 1988. He admitted to the crime before dying in prison on December 9th 2007. Investigators spent 18 months searching for something to corroborate the confession but found nothing. However, they closed the investigation and ended their search for Amber.
Kim Swartz-Garcia did not agree with closing the case and petitioned to have it reopened. She believes Curtis Deans confession to her daughters murder is false and that Amber might still be alive. Eventually, Pinole Police reopened the case and continue to seek answers in her disappearance. Curtis is also a suspect in the 1999 abduction of Karla Rodriguez who is still missing as of currently.
In December of 2020, the Alameda County District Attorneys Office charged 59 year old David Emery Misch with murder in Michaela’s disappearance. He was charged with special circumstances in relation to the case. He has been charged with at least three other homicides.
In 2018, Misch was charged with the slayings of Jennifer Duey and Michelle Xavier. Both women were returning from a birthday party when they were raped and killed. Their bodies were found on Mill Creek Road. They were killed on February 2nd 1986 in Fremont, California. The pair were both last seen at a 7-Eleven Has station convenience store by their boyfriends and they were driving a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird convertible.
Both women were found dead approximately two hours afterwards. They were both in a secluded area on Mill Creek Road. They were nude and covered in blood and one of them had been shot to death while the other stabbed. The vehicle they were driving, which belonged to Xavier, was found at the Mission Valley Shopping Center in Fremont. This was several miles away from the 7-Eleven they were last seen at.
There murders remained unsolved for 32 years until a break in the case came. The break came when a cold case detective re-examined evidence in the murder case. Some of this evidence had been processed for DNA in recent years and the results identified David as being the killer of both women. He lived in the Fremont area in 1986 and was a known commercial burglar and drug user.
Investigators do not believe the women had any contact or history with him whatsoever before their deaths. When he was 21 years old, he was arrested for the assault of an 18 year old woman in Oakland, California. She was picking flowers when Misch grabbed her from behind and brandished a knife and said he was “going to kill her.” He was on parole from the California Youth Authority for charges of rape, assault, and burglary. He was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in 1982.
On December 7th 1989, Misch killed 36 year old Margaret Narcisa Ball inside her residence in Hayward, California. She had been stabbed several times in the chest and elsewhere at some point between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm. She was discovered deceased in her living room by the 11 year old daughter of her boyfriend who shared the residence with her. Her vehicle, a silver 1981 Mazda, was missing from her home.
According to reports, Misch was a casual acquaintance of Margaret’s and that nothing intimate was happening between them. A woman named Gayle Vaugh later told police that she had seen David sitting on the sofa inside Ball’s residence on the morning of Margaret’s murder. Gayle knew him as “Dave” as that’s the name Margaret used when she introduced the two to each other.
Margaret’s boyfriend, Michael Zaboy, told police that she had been fearful of “Dave” because he made threats towards her because he wanted to date her but she refused his offer. Margaret was killed with a 12-inch knife and had also been strangled apparently. According to reports, Misch had recently been released from prison on November 17th after he served seven months of a sixteen month long term for burglary. He was referred to as “parolee” as a result in newspapers.
On December 8th, David was arrested in Oakland, California at 6:00 am. When arrested, he was driving Margaret’s missing vehicle and was leaving the Farm House Motel on MacArthur Boulevard. According to authorities, the motive for Margaret’s murder was robbery. Misch had stolen $85 worth of food stamps from her home and pocket change. He also had methamphetamine in his possession when he was arrested.
In 1990, David was convicted of second degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon for Margaret’s death and was sentenced to life in prison. Margaret’s murder the earlier murders of Michelle and Jennifer, and the assault on the woman in 1981 were not his first crimes like this. When Misch was sixteen years old, he was convicted of breaking into a neighbors home and raping a woman at knifepoint who worked as a maid in the residence. He was paroled in 1978 for this.
In February 1979, Misch was arrested for false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon. Charges were later added to this case to include assault to commit rape. He was also charged with indecent exposure in 1985 as he was caught driving around Oakland while being nude. Misch had been arrested for burglary at a San Leandro market in May of 1988, just months before he abducted Michaela.
Misch would’ve been 27 years old at the time of Michaela’s abduction. He has been charged with kidnapping and murder in the case. He was linked to Michaela’s abduction and murder through forensic testing. When the abductor moved the scooter that Michaela went to get, he left fingerprints behind. This prints were matched to Misch which proves he abducted her. Witnesses also reported seeing Misch enter the oath king lot with his vehicle sometime before he took Michaela.
David is currently incarcerated at the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, California. Authorities have stated that Michaela likely died the very day she was kidnapped.
Michaela’s family held out hope for years that she would be found alive. Yearly vigils to mark her abduction were held at the exact spot she was taken from. Multiple television shows have done segments on Michaela’s abduction. In 1988, Michaela became the first missing child to be featured on America’s Most Wanted and her abduction was also profiled on Unsolved Mysteries in January of 1989.
Michaela’s case is considered one of the most high profile missing children’s case in the United States since she was abducted in broad daylight. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance and her body has not yet been found. Michaela’s family is relieved that the case has finally been solved and hope she’ll be recovered. Her abduction gripped the Bay Area for years after she was taken.
Image: Jennifer Duey, circa 1986
Image: Michelle Xavier, circa 1986
Images: David Emery Misch (circa 1989), David (circa 2018), David (circa 2020)
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Hayward Police Department 510-293-7272
Federal Bureau of Investigation 415-553-7400
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Federal Bureau of Investigation
California Department of Justice
The San Francisco Examiner 01/30/1993
The Santa Cruz Sentinel 02/06/1989
Jaycee Lee Dugard – The Charley Project (archived)
The Speed Freak Killers – Murderpedia
The Speed Freak Killers – Wikipedia
Curtis Dean Anderson – Federal Bureau of Investigation
Curtis Dean Anderson – Murderpedia
Michaela Joy Garecht – Wikipedia
The Oakland Tribune 12/09/1989
The Oakland Tribune 12/13/1989
The Oakland Tribune 12/29/1989
DAVID MISCH: THE SYSTEM FAILED TO PROTECT MICHAELA GARECHT FROM A SERIAL KILLER IN THE MAKING