Looking for Michaela Garecht: Mother Hopes Jaycee Dugard Case Will Lead to Her Daughter

Mother of missing girl is hoping for clues after break in Jaycee Dugard case.

BySarah Netter and Zunaira Zaki via via logo
September 14, 2009, 12:26 PM

Sept. 16, 2009— -- Sharon Murch is watching the search at Phillip and Nancy Garrido's home with a renewed flicker of hope, hoping against all odds that her daughter Michaela, stolen 21 years ago, will emerge from the sheds and tents of that nightmarish back yard.

Miracles are possible, Murch reasons, because Jaycee Dugard was rescued 18 years after she was allegedly snatched by the Garridos.

"When Jaycee was found my first thought was 'Please God let Michaela be with her," Shannon Murch told "Good Morning America" today.

She is clinging to that hope as detectives from the California towns of Hayward and Dublin search through the Garrido property for clues to the disappearance of other young girls.

The disappearance of Michaela, who was kidnapped from Hayward, Calif., in 1988, is one of two missing children cases that police believe could be connected to the couple who is accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard and holding her in a backyard laybrinth of sheds and tents for 18 years.

The other child, 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff vanished from Dublin just months later, in January 1989, after taking a short cut across a creek bed on her way home from school.

Michaela was just 9 years old when she was snatched in broad daylight after she and her friend were allowed to take their scooters to a nearby the grocery store. It was the first time Michaela was allowed to take the trip on her own.

"To live with a hope that is continuously unfulfilled is really one of the most difficult things in the world," Murch said. "For awhile it was easier for me to believe she was in a better place than this, where she is not in pain."

And for a time, Murch said, she lost hope of ever finding her daughter. But when the Garridos were arrested in the Dugard case, she got a call from the friend who was with Michaela that day saying the grey sedan authorities impounded looked like the car Michaela was pulled into.

Murch said she's also buoyed by reports that a neighbor called authorities years ago to say there were five little blonde girls in the Garrido's backyard. Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters born in captivity would account for three.

"It just seems as though there's a spotlight being shone on Michaela and there must be a reason for it," she said.

And if Michaela Garecht is still alive, Murch said she has a message for her.

"Michaela if you're out there and you can hear my voice, I just want you to know that I love you," she said. "There's nothing that you could have gone through in these last 20 years that we could not overcome."

Authorities Say There are 'Similarities' Between Jaycee Dugard Case, Others

Dublin Police Lt. Kurt von Savoye and Hayward Police Lt. Christine Orrey agreed at a press conference earlier on Tuesday that that there were enough similarities between Dugard's case and the disappearances of Garecht and Misheloff to warrant a search of the couple's Antioch home and the property next door.

Authorities searching for clues in the Dugard case found a bone fragment last month that tested as likely being human.

"Our investigators immediately started looking into the possibility that the Garridos had some connection," von Savoye said. "Additionally, we know that based on the Dugard investigation as well as Mr. Garrido's history, these people -- people who commit these offenses -- tend to be predatory and tend to have multiple victims."

"As we learned more about that case we saw more and more similarities" to Michaela's disappearance, Orrey said.

She said her department was interested because the abduction of Michaela was very similar to that of Jaycee Dugard, "very brazen, in broad daylight and in a public place." In addition, she said the vehicle in Michaela's kidnapping was similar to the car found on the Garrido property, and the description of the kidnapper was similar to what Garrido looked like at that time.

Orrey said detectives from Dublin and Hayard would "methodically, systematically and thoroughly search the property with our own cases in mind."

Jaycee Dugard, now 29, was reunited with her family last month after being held in a backyard labyrinth of sheds and tents since 1991, during which time she bore two daughters, allegedly by Garrido. Phillip and Nancy Garrido have pleaded not guilty to 28 counts, including kidnapping and rape.

"The issue with Jaycee being found is just something that reinforces our hope," Illene's father Mike Misheloff told ABCNews.com last month.

Michaela's father Rod Garecht told ABCNews.com last month that when he first heard the story saw about Jaycee Dugard being found, he wondered if the woman police had found was actually Michaela.

"When I saw her, the picture they showed of her as a child looked a lot like my daughter," he said. "I kept thinking it was Michaela and not that other girl."

Garecht and Ilene's father, Mike Misheloff, told ABCNews.com that Dugard's story gives them hope.

Von Savoye said that they while they were not naming the Garridos as suspects, they could not eliminate them either.

Nancy and Phillip Garrido Have Pleaded Not Guilty in Jaycee Dugard Case

Aerial footage of the latest search in Antioch showed workers crawling around in the grass, feeling the dirt. Orrey said crews, assisted by multiple agencies including the FBI, would also be bringing in specialized equipment that would help determine where the ground had been disturbed.

The Garridos appeared in court Monday, where bond was set at $30 million for Phillip Garrido, who was also ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, which District Attorney Vern Pierson called "very common." Nancy Garrido's attorney did not make a bail request.

They spoke only briefly when agreeing to waive their right to a speedy hearing.

Since Garrido's arrest for kidnapping Jaycee Dugard, he has also been investigated for the murder of several prostitutes. He has not been charged with any additional cases.

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