The parents of missing girl Michaela Joy Garecht are hoping that a 3-inch bone fragment will finally solve the mystery of their daughter's 1988 disappearance.
Sharon Murch, who has kept her daughter's memory alive by maintaining a website in Michaela's honor, posted on Thursday, "In my heart, I have been expecting something to happen. I didn't know what. I didn't know it would be this, but I was just expecting something."
"If this is confirmed, though, I will be glad to know the truth, simply because it is the truth. And I feel an overwhelming desire to bring Michaela home. It breaks my heart to think of her little body lying in that godforsaken place for all these years, and if that is so, I want to gather her up and bring her home," Murch wrote.
Michaela was 9 when she vanished from outside of a grocery store in Hayward, Calif., on Nov. 19, 1988.
DNA tests are now being carried out to determine if the bone came from Garecht. Her mother wrote on her website that the lab "specializes in extracting mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to child. The results of this testing will tell us positively whether this bone is Michaela's or not."
Those tests will take several weeks.
The bone being examined was found mixed in with other skeletal remains of JoAnn Hobson, a 16-year-old who vanished from Stockton, Calif., in 1985. Those remains were excavated in February after police were directed to a well in Linden, Calif., by Wesley Shermantine, one of two men convicted of being the "Speed Freak Killers."
Shermantine and Loren Herzog were convicted of killing four people, but investigators have not determined the total number of lives the murderers claimed from 1994 to 1998. The killing duo are known as the "Speed Freak Killers" because they were believed to be high on drugs while on their killing spree.
The well was excavated by large digging equipment and when the remains were given to Hobson's mother, Joan Shelley, she turned over the bones to a lab for further examination. The lab found that the bones of at least two other people were mixed in, including a child between the ages of 5 and 14.
Shermantine started revealing locations of his victims from his cell at San Quentin Prison's Death Row in January. Herzog committed suicide while on parole in January after his lawyer warned him Shermantine was turning over maps of where their victims were buried.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore said, "Initially I was taken aback to learn there was possibly a mix up involving the recovered remains from the well we dug near Linden. We relied on the expertise of the California Department of Justice and an anthropologist on accepting their classifications of the recovered remains."
He went on to say, "Our hearts go out to the family of JoAnn and all the victims of Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog. We will continue to work with the FBI and our law enforcement partners to recover remains."