"It ultimately turned out just to be a 12- year-old kid messing around on the Internet," said Gissel. "There were a lot of resources devoted just to that one incident. And there were others similar to that."
For Darien and Tracy Biggs, the false leads added unnecessary stress to the agonizing search for their daughter. The oldest of four children, Mikelle was class president and a talented artist who wanted to be a Disney animator.
"All parents think their kids are the brightest and the most talented, all that. Sometimes it happens to be true," said Darien Biggs.
"She had such a good spirit to her," said her younger sister Kimber, then 9 years old. "Anyone who met her just loved her."
Everyone in the Biggs household dealt differently with Mikelle's mysterious disappearance.
"When the other kids would talk about Mikelle, I wouldn't be in the conversation," said Darien Biggs.
While he couldn't bring himself to enter his daughter's bedroom down the hall, his wife found comfort there.
"I would look through her pictures and all her drawings, and I spent a lot of time organizing them," she told ABC News.
In the months and years after Mikelle vanished, the Biggses continued to raise awareness about their daughter, attending vigils and conducting interviews with the local media.
"I never broke down, cried on camera," said Darien Biggs. "One, because that's private. And two, because I felt like if I lose it that way, I'm going to lose it completely. ... I do have a family to take care of still."
Although Darien and Tracy Biggs still were publicly pleading for their daughter's safe return, they said that privately they were losing hope.
"I always believed that we were going to find her," Darien Biggs said. "I just never felt like we were going to find her alive."
"It was more comforting believing that she wasn't alive," Tracy Biggs said. "I prayed that she wasn't alive. I didn't want her to be suffering in the ways I knew she could be suffering."
Nine months after Mikelle went missing there was another brutal crime in the neighborhood. Dee Blalock, a registered sex offender who lived two blocks away from the Biggses, brutally assaulted his neighbor Susan Quinnett.
Quinnett said Blalock had bothered her with unwanted advances for months. One night, she came home from some errands to find him inside her house.
"He was hiding behind the refrigerator," she said. "I tried to take a few steps, and he already had come forward and grabbed me ... and twisted my arm, and started ... forcing me to the ground."
Quinnett was raped and brutally beaten.
"The impact was equivalent to if I had been in a head-on collision and gone through the windshield of the car," she told ABC News.
Police said Blalock left Quinnett for dead and tried to burn the house down with pizza boxes he set ablaze on the stove. But Quinnett miraculously survived the attack. As she was being taken in the ambulance, she had a revelation.
"I kept telling them, Mikelle Biggs," she said. "Mikelle, the girl that's missing, Mikelle Biggs is in his [property] ... If you go to his house and you dig it up, he took Mikelle Biggs. You have to get him. He's the one that got her."
Darien Biggs thinks police should have pressed Blalock harder when they questioned him the night Mikelle disappeared.