Man charged with murder in connection with Michaela Garecht kidnapping in 1988, three decades after she disappeared from the California supermarket

A convicted murderer has been arrested and charged with murder in the 1988 cold case of 9-year-old Michaela Garecht, who disappeared from a supermarket in Hayward, California more than three decades ago.

David Misch, 59, is charged with murder and two special circumstances, including murder in a kidnapping and after being convicted of a previous murder, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced at a news conference Monday.

Michaela Garecht was kidnapped from the Rainbow Market parking lot in Hayward on November 19, 1988 while trying to retrieve a friend’s scooter. Authorities said the kidnapper had come closer to his vehicle, according to the FBI. The case was featured in Dateline’s “Cold Case Spotlight” in November 2014.

“Today is about family, community and healing,” said Hayward Police Chief Toney Chaplin as he announced the arrest at Monday’s press conference.

He called the case “a tragic story that has gripped the Bay Area for decades.”

For more than 32 years, Michaela was not seen or heard from, and her body has never been found.

The Hayward Police Department, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI worked tirelessly on the case, saying it was Misch’s partial handprint found on the scooter at the scene that linked him to Michaela’s disappearance. The breakthrough came earlier this year, they said.

The kidnapping and murder of a child is terrible. The pain for family and friends is indescribable, especially if their child is not found. This crime shocked not only the local community, but the entire Bay Area and the nation, ”said DA O’Malley. “I hope today’s action and announcement will bring some comfort to Michaela’s family in the knowledge that justice will prevail even after 32 years since this horrible crime.”

Authorities say the brutal kidnapping took place on the morning of November 19, 1988, after Michaela and a friend rode scooters to the Rainbow Grocery on Mission Boulevard in Hayward. They left the scooters outside while going in to buy snacks. When they came out, one of the scooters had moved near a car. The FBI believes that when Michaela went to get the scooter, the driver took her.

“The crime shocked not only the local Hayward and Alameda County community, but the entire Bay Area and the nation,” said DA O’Malley. “It was so brutal, so ruthless but clearly planned.”

Misch is currently facing other charges in Alameda County for the murder of two women in Fremont in 1986, and is currently in state prison for the 1989 murder of another woman in the Hayward area.

Misch will be charged on Tuesday, December 22.

“We hope this announcement will bring Michaela’s family closer to the peace they have deserved for so many years,” Chaplin said. Chaplin ended the press conference Monday by reading a statement from Michaela’s mother:

“In the past year I had to come to a place where I accepted that Michaela was no longer alive. But somehow that acceptance was much more in the idea that Michaela sat on a fluffy pink cloud, walked through golden streets, danced on grassy hills, floated among the stars, ”the statement said. “What I didn’t imagine was my daughter as a dead child. It wasn’t until I heard this news that this vision of reality appeared and I honestly didn’t figure out what to do with it. “

Michaela’s mother went on to say that she “feels lost in the dark” but “glad there are answers”.