Left and Center: Ilene circa, 1989
Right: Age Progressed to age 43
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: January 30, 1989
Missing From: Dublin, Alameda County, California
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: March 12, 1975
Age: 13 years old
Height and Weight: 5’3″ and 115 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Ilene has a small lump on the inside of her left ankle, she wore braces on her teeth at the time of her 1989 abduction, she has freckles on her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, and her ears are double pierced
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A charcoal gray colored pullover Espirit polo sweater, A pink/charcoal gray skirt with horizontal stripes, black low top Keds sneakers, Ilene was last known to be wearing two earrings in each ear, she was carrying a dark blue backpack and a black plastic flute case
NCMEC Number: 719556
Details of Disappearance
Ilene was last seen in Dublin, California on January 30th 1989. She left Wells Intermediate School at 2:20 pm after she was excused from her physical education class early. Ilene planned to walk home, change clothes, and get a quick snack before heading to the ice skating rink for skating practice. She walked with a few other classmates until they stopped at a Goodwill store in the Shamrock Shopping Center on the way. Ilene continued walking alone, however.
Ilene planned to take a shortcut home from school like she usually did. She would through a wide alley behind the Shamrock Shopping Center, a furniture store called the Sawmill, and Gallagher’s Pub, then across Amador Valley Boulevard and through John Mape Park along a dry creek bed. A classmate who knew Ilene saw her walking west on Amador Valley Boulevard near Village Parkway at 2:30 pm. She was alone at the time.
Ilene never returned home from school and reportedly never made it to her skating practice that afternoon. Her disappearance wasn’t noticed until 6:00 pm when her mother, Madelyne “Maddi” Misheloff, arrived at the skating rink to watch the last hour of Ilene’s practice session and was told she had never arrived for practice that day and that no one at the rink had seen her. She was reported missing afterwards.
While there are no witnesses to how exactly Ilene disappeared, law enforcement suspects she was abducted by a non-family member while she was walking home. Her key fob was later discovered near the entrance to John Mape Park. Her backpack which she had been carrying at the time of her disappearance was found days after her abduction in the dry creek bed she would’ve walked along.
The backpack was located in the area after it had already been searched extensively by volunteers and police. This leads investigators to believe that someone placed the bag at the scene after it had been searched already.
In February 1989, police received a call from someone who reported seeing Ilene on the center median strip of San Ramon Boulevard between 2:50 pm and 3:10 pm. This was close to where she was seen walking by a classmate some twenty minutes earlier. There were also two unconfirmed witness accounts that indicated a girl matching Ilene’s description was seen getting into an unidentified vehicle.
According to the accounts, a girl matching Ilene’s description was seen entering a van that was parked in south bound traffic on San Ramon Boulevard. The vehicle was driven by an unidentified male and there appeared to several juvenile male subjects standing outside of the vehicle when the girl got inside. It has not been confirmed that this girl is indeed Ilene but the sighting took place not far from where she was last seen.
Another sighting indicated that Ilene might’ve been seen getting into a different vehicle that was parked in the vicinity of John Mape Park. The vehicle was described as a mid-1980s white or light colored four door American made Sedan. This vehicle was parked along the path that Ilene normally took home. These two sightings ultimately lead nowhere but it’s the only possible sighting of whoever her abductor(s) were.
Following Ilene’s disappearance, a massive search effort took place for her. Her family was joined by the Dublin community who showered them with support. They formed a recovery effort known as the “Ilene Misheloff Recovery Effort” in which they shared fliers showing her picture locally and nationally. Almost every major street in the area had yellow ribbons on them and people could be seen posting fliers of Ilene on the roads during the rain.
Ilene’s synagogue held a prayer service for her after she disappeared and several area churches did the same in her honor. By February 8th 1989, more than half a million fliers bearing Ilene’s photo and information had been distributed in Northern California in the search for her. They were sent to every police department in the Bay Area and were also being given out by church groups, Boy Scouts, school children, and hundreds of volunteers.
The California Highway Patrol also alerted all 6,500 of its officers statewide to be on the lookout for Ilene and to post her flier in every office where the public can see it. This was the first time the patrol was involved in such a coordinate effort to locate a missing child. They were assisted by the Kevin Collins Foundation which was headed by David Collins.
David’s son, Kevin, was abducted by a stranger in San Francisco, California on February 10th 1984 and has never been found. His father founded the organization after his son’s disappearance and it was meant to help other families with missing children. David personally helped coordinate efforts to locate Misheloff but was unsuccessful in doing so. Still, he provided support to her family during the very difficult time. Ilene’s photograph was also put on milk cartons all throughout California.
When Ilene went missing, fears of child kidnapper(s) on the loose in the Bay Area were rampant due to the disappearances of two other girls from towns near Dublin. On June 3rd 1988, seven year old Amber Jean Swartz-Garcia went outside in the front yard of her house in Pinole, California to play with a jump rope. She was abducted by an unidentified individual at some point afterwards.
On November 19th 1988, nine year old Michaela Garecht was abducted by an unidentified white male suspect as she was leaving the Rainbow Market in Hayward, California. Her friend witnessed the man pull Michaela into a parked vehicle as she went to a retrieve a scooter next to it and the individual sped away with her inside the vehicle. Michaela was never seen again and her abductor was not immediately identified.
There was speculation that Ilene’s disappearance was connected to the other two cases. All three were young girls abducted in the broad daylight hours in a monthly span. Police even looked into a man named Timothy Bindner as a possible suspect in all three cases. Following their disappearances, he approached the three mothers of the missing girls and offered his assistance in the cases.
He was viewed as a suspect primarily due to his obsession with the cases. Amber’s mother, Kim Swartz-Garcia, was asked to maintain a friendship with Tim in hopes of seeing whether he indeed knew anything about the cases. She doesn’t believe he had anything to do with the cases but instead suspects he was playing mind games with both the families of the victims and law enforcement. Police agreed with her.
Bindner himself denies being involved in any of the cases of the missing girls. His name mainly became associated with the cases following the disappearance of Amanda Nicole “Nikki” Eileen Campbell. She was four years old when she was abducted by an unidentified individual while she was riding her bicycle in Fairfield, California on December 27th 1991. Her bicycle was later found abandoned in the side of the street. She has never been found.
He became a suspect in the case in 1992 after it was found he had sent the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a postcard which showed a child holding up four fingers. After he sent this, Amanda disappeared. His home was searched for evidence in connection with her case and the other cases but nothing was found to indicate he had any connection to them. He eventually sued the city of Fairfield for defamation of character in 1997 and won the case.
Bindner is no longer considered a serious suspect in many of the cases. Investigators also no longer believe any of the cases were committed by the same person. David Collins also mentioned he didn’t believe the cases to be connected and ended by saying “We’ve got plenty of abductor’s out there.” The only thing in common with each case at the time was a seeming lack of evidence in them. There were also no witnesses to the abductions of Amber, Ilene, or Amanda.
Following Ilene’s abduction, the parents of Amber and Michaela all went to the home of the Misheloffs and let them know they were not alone. They all supported each other in the searches for their children.
Notorious child killer, Curtis Dean Anderson, was looked at as a possible suspect in the Misheloff case. On December 9, 1999, he abducted and murdered seven year old Xiana Fairchild who was last seen waiting for her school bus in Vallejo, California. It’s believed he kept Xiana alive for at least two weeks before he murdered her. Her partial skull was found in Los Gatos, California on January 19th 2001. He was convicted of that crime in 2004 and was sentenced to 300 years in prison for her murder.
On August 10th 2000, eight year old Midsi Sanchez disappeared after leaving her elementary school in Vallejo, California. She was abducted by Anderson who too her to Santa Clara, California and held her against her will for three days inside of his vehicle where he sexually abused her. Midsi managed to escape her imprisonment after he dropped his keys. She got help and was reunited with her family. It was this crime that made Anderson a primary suspect in the Fairchild case.
While in prison, Anderson admitted to killing at least thirteen other girls and women during his time as a serial killer. In November of 2007, Anderson was interviewed by FBI agents and admitted to abducting and murdering Amber Swartz-Garcia. He died a month later while still serving his prison sentence and investigators could not find any evidence to indicate he actually killed Amber. Her mother does not believe the confession and doesn’t believe he was involved in the case.
Police did believe the confession for some time and even closed the case in 2009 after saying they were satisfied that Anderson was the killer. Amber’s mother created a petition to have the case reopened and it resulted in the missing persons case being revived in 2013. Amber remains missing and is presumed abducted.
Anderson did own a sedan in 1989 which would’ve matched one of the vehicles of interest in Ilene’s abduction. However, the vehicle was a different color than the one seen by the witness. Anderson hasn’t been ruled out as a suspect in Ilene’s disappearance but he hasn’t been charged in connection with the case.
Investigators no longer believe Michaela Garecht’s case is connected to any of the others. In December 2020, David Misch was charged with Michaela’s kidnapping and murder. He was already in prison for beating a woman to death in 1989 and is also awaiting trial for the double 1986 murders of Michelle Xavier and Jennifer Duey in Fremont, California when his fingerprints were found to match the ones found at the scene of the kidnapping.
Misch was looked at in connection with the other cases as well. He would’ve been in prison when Amanda Campbell disappeared which automatically ruled him out as a suspect and he was also found to have been in prison for burglary when Amber went missing in June 1988. It also appears that he was in prison for drug possession when Ilene disappeared.
Another possible suspect in the case is James Daveggio
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Dublin Police Department 925-833-6670