In the official, public version of Ilene Misheloff’s disappearance, she was seen leaving her Dublin middle school on the afternoon of January 30, 1989. And then she never made it home or to her ice skating practice Maybe at one point, in the nearly 21 a long time ago, police mentioned having a witness who described seeing someone who looked like Ilene getting into a car that afternoon.
But it was never a point they never emphasized, either because they thought the witness’ memory was sketchy or because this information was something they wanted to keep to themselves. “We never had any eyewitnesses to say for sure that she was abducted,” said Lt. no eyewitness to say for sure she’s been abducted,
Now, Dublin police say this witness’ sighting, and the car described by the witness, is one of the factors that helped them secure a to join Hayward police in the search of the Antich home of Jaycee Lee Dugard’s accused kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
Hayward police are looking for any evidence at Garrido’s home and yard, and on a neighboring property, that Garrido was involved in the November 1988 kidnapping of Michaela Garecht, 9, of Hayward. Of the possibility that Garrido could be Michaela’s kidnapper, Lt. Christine Orrey of the Hayward police said that, of the more than 13,000 tips investigators received, “this is one of the strongest leads we’ve pursued thus far.”
An eyewitness, Michaela’s friend, actually saw her being pulled into a car outside the neighborhood grocery store that the two girls had biked to on a Saturday morning. This fact was mentioned in every story about the abduction, and a police sketch of a suspect accompanied most stories.
A beat-up sedan towed from Garrido’s property is similar to the car Michaela was pulled into, says Orrey. The brazen daylight kidnapping of Michaela is also similar to how Jaycee was abducted. She was grabbed in view of her stepfather as she made her way to a bus stop near her South Lake Tahoe home in June 1991.
Moreover, photos of Garrido from the late 1970s and early 1980s, with him wearing stringy shoulder-length hair, are similar to the police sketch of Michaela’s abductor. Finally, Garrido was living in a halfway house in Oakland at the time of her kidnapping.
Dublin police are being a bit more restrained in suggesting, in any way, that they have solved Ilene’s disappearance, which has haunted the community of Dublin since it happened. However, Lt. Kurt Von Savoye said the sedan found on Garrido’s property is also similar to the car Ilene may have gotten into.
Both lieutenants say the search of the Garrido property and an adjacent property, for which Garrido served as a caretaker, started at 7 a.m. and could take several days. The search will be thorough and methodical. Police and criminalists will be looking for clothing that belonged to either Ilene or Michaela and, yes, they will be looking for remains. The search could involve digging under the house, and even razing parts of it.
Sharon Munch, the mother of Michaela, said at a later afternoon press conference: “I’m hoping this will lead to a resolution.” She, of course, hopes that Michaela, like Jaycee after 18 years, will turn up alive.
Munch said she always wondered if the same person who kidnapped Jaycee had abducted her daughter, because of the similarity in the description of the suspect.
She added that she spoke to the eyewitness in her daughter’s case, Michaela’s friend, who told her that Garrido looks as much like Michaela’s kidnapper as anyone she has so far seen.