Two decades is a long time to be missing, but the love, faith, and hope have not faded for the possible return of the little girl who would now be a young woman. Freshly-tied yellow ribbons outside a Hayward market mark the location and anniversary of the abduction of Michaela Joy Garecht.
Michaela's younger brother Robby, who was a baby when she was abducted, sang songs in her honor at Friday's event. Family, friends and even Hayward police detectives gathered to remember this 22nd anniversary since Michaela was kidnapped.
She was 9 years old when she was snatched from outside a Mission Boulevard Market in Hayward on Nov. 19, 1988. Michaela was walking with her friend back to the market to get their scooters when a man grabbed her, pulled her into his car screaming and drove away. That friend, Katrina, was the sole witness, and Friday she spoke about keeping Michaela's memory alive and continuing the search for her.
"She should not be gone. She was a very, very special child. She was a gift to the world," said Michaela's mother Sharon Garecht. "And if she can't be here herself to give that gift, then I have to do it for her."
There was renewed hope in finding Michaela again last year when Jaycee Dugard, kidnapped in 1992, was found alive with her accused abductor Phillip Garrido. Because of similarities between the two kidnappings, Garrido's property was dug up in a search for evidence, but nothing was ever found, and Garrido never admitted involvement.
Michaela's mother has said she would like a permanent memorial for her daughter. Hayward police pledged support to create one.