Sunday, January 27, 2013

So what now?



I thought that if I found out that the bone discovered last summer was not Michaela's that it would be difficult. I thought that I would feel tired, like I was picking up a heavy load I had set aside for a moment, and setting back out on a long, hard journey. But it hasn't been that way at all. Compared to the death watch of the last few months, waiting for the tests on the bone to be completed, I feel energized. Those occasional leads that have come along which would lead to an answer, the answer being that Michaela is no longer alive, always offer a kind of a hypnotic draw. They tempt me with rest, and I think yes let this be it, let me have an answer, let this torturous searching and not knowing end. I comfort myself with the thought that if this is the truth, that at least Michaela is not suffering now, today, that she is at peace, and that therefore I can be at peace. And I think, let this at least be over. Sometimes, I just can't figure out how I feel.

But the truth of my feelings becomes obvious in the relief that is always the overriding reaction when I find out that they have not found Michaela to be dead. Somewhere, deep inside, a little tiny seed of elation explodes into a corkscrew of a sprout that winds its way up through my heart until it blossoms, and I am able to recognize it for what it is. This is love. This is hope. For what, it doesn't matter. In my mind I know that the hope of Michaela being alive carries its own dreadful possibilities. But my stubborn, stubborn heart just does not want to give my daughter up. 

So those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile have probably recognized the fact that I am fully willing to throw myself off cliffs and into deep waters over various leads. I fully admit to this. I will also fully admit to the fact that this is true of a number of different leads, each of which makes perfect sense and seems to be true to me. And who knows how many other leads I have not heard of? As of right now, Herzog has not been ruled out as a suspect, and I will continue to support whatever may be done to get to the bottom of that investigation. I know that this is in good hands, that there are a lot of intimately involved and determined people working on this, and I will continue to support them fully, whether it eventually involves Michaela or whether it doesn't.

However, what I am drawn back to is the human trafficking. I try to be so careful with information that I release on this blog, try not to compromise the investigation in any way. There are probably a lot of things I could say that I don't out of an abundance of caution. My readers are probably aware of the e-mails I got just about a year ago telling me that Michaela is in the UAE. And there have been things that have happened since then that have made me believe that this is entirely and absolutely possible, which I don't really want to go into. But the possibility of human trafficking arose in Michaela's case long before this lead. This past week I did an interview for a program on human trafficking, and before I did that I asked my detective if it was okay to discuss that lead publicly, and he said it was. So I will.

There was a man in the 1980's who was involved in trafficking of child pornography between the United States and Mexico. His name was Richard Helwig. In March 1989 he was stopped at the border as he was returning from a trip to Mexico, and he was discovered to have child pornography in his vehicle, along with cut-outs of articles about Michaela and Amber Swartz, who had gone missing here in the Bay Area just a few months before Michaela. An investigation was carried out by ICE or CBP or whatever incarnation of immigration authorities were in charge at that time. Helwig had a girlfriend in Mexico who had two daughters who were both deaf. Authorities interviewed the girlfriend, who possessed earrings like the ones Michaela was wearing. She said Helwig had given them to her, but later changed her story and said that she got them from the flea market. Not impossible, as those earrings were as common as dust back in those days. She also said that Helwig had given her a tee-shirt like the one Michaela had been wearing, although this shirt was apparently not turned up in a search.

The two daughters were also interviewed, separately, and each girl independently verified that both Michaela and Amber had been there, in Mexico. (Note that Amber's case was closed by the Pinole Police Department, based on a confession by Curtis Dean Anderson. However, there was no evidence to back up Anderson's confession and there is every possibility that he had ulterior motives. There are many for whom Amber's case is far from closed.) Helwig went to prison, where he died of AIDS. In prison, even on his death bed, he continued to be questioned by authorities about Michaela's case. They tried to get information, to get a confession. Helwig refused to talk, would neither admit nor deny any knowledge of or involvement with Michaela's kidnapping.

And so today this remains yet another unanswered question. This is just one example, by the way, of the leads that have not been released to the public. Many have set their sites on Herzog or Garrido because of all the publicity, but that is because they have not heard about Helwig, or others.

This is a very strong lead by anybody's standards. And the importance of this lead is that if it is true then it establishes that Michaela was not kidnapped by an individual sociopath for his own sick purposes. It would instead establish that she was kidnapped to be used by an organized group, for human trafficking purposes. And although this story begins in Mexico, it does not have to end there. If Michaela was taken by a traffickers in children and child pornography to Mexico, it is entirely possible that she ended up in the UAE. She could be anywhere in the big wide world, of course, but there have been a few indications that it could well be the UAE.

The frustrating thing continues to be that there is so little that can be done to follow up on something like this. The only thing I have been able to come up with is to yell and cry and carry on. People have suggested that I go to the UAE and look for her, or that I go through photos of all these girls on websites from the UAE. People, that is not going to work. The UAE is a large place. I am not going to wander in there and bump into Michaela at the market. I am certainly not going to infiltrate the human trafficking rings. I do know people whose children have been taken by their fathers to the Persian Gulf countries and who have not been able to get them out even though they know where they are and who they are with, so please don't try to tell me that there is anything effective that I could do here. If I knew for sure where she was, maybe, but I don't even know she is in the country! And as for looking through all those photos, I have done things like that in the past, with other situations. Most of those girls in those photos probably don't even look like themselves, and I really don't know what Michaela would look like now. It is an exercise in futility and grief. 

I would really like to be able to get Michaela's story in the media in the Persian Gulf, but so far I haven't found a way to do that. I have asked people with contacts in the Persian Gulf, and I have asked media people from the United States. Haven't been able to put the two together -- Persian Gulf + Media. I'm just not honestly sure that it would be possible. I know that it is against the law to distribute "Missing" flyers, so perhaps it is possible that stories about missing girls cannot be aired either.

So for now, I will continue to take whatever opportunities come my way to get Michaela's story out there ... and one of my primary certain ways is through this blog. I know that I have an international audience out there. I ask you to please, please, please help to try to spread the word. If everybody who reads this blog asks their friends in other countries to read it, and to forward it to people they know in other countries, perhaps it will find its way to where it should be, to where it will help.

And who knows? Perhaps it has already reached into that place. Perhaps Michaela has read it, is reading it right now. If so, my only purpose here can be to continue to send you love and support. Someone left a comment on another blog entry yesterday asking if it wouldn't be more difficult for me if Michaela contacted me and let me know that she was out there, that she was reading my blog, wouldn't I be upset to know that she was choosing not to come home? As I said in my birthday message to Michaela, this is something I have struggled with, but in the end the fact is this ... I am Michaela's mother. My place in life is to love her and support her. I am here to help her, to make her feel better, and not to feel worse. In my slow as molasses way I have come to recognize that there may be some compelling reasons that she could be out there and unwilling or afraid to come home. It is not my place to be upset or offended by that. It is not my place to make her feel guilty or responsible for my feelings. She is not responsible for my feelings in any way. She is not responsible for the sorrow or grief or pain of these years of separation. The only person or persons responsible for that are the ones responsible for her kidnapping.

Michaela, if you were to contact me, if you were to give me certain information so that I know you are Michaela -- like our family code word, or several memories that nobody else would know about -- I would respect your situation. As I said in my previous blog, maybe you have children and want to protect them. Heaven knows that as much as I loved my mother, I would not have left or endangered my children in order to make my mother feel better. And my mother would never have asked me to, and would never have made me feel guilty for it. 

If you are out there, Michaela, you can trust me. You can trust me to love you, to never harm you. You can trust me to not try to find you if you ask me not to. What would change if you contacted me? It would give me a measure of peace. If I found you, even if it was only vague and at a distance, I would be able to stop this frantic searching here there and everywhere. I would not have to hold my breath in these death watches. The nature and character of my letters to you on this blog would change, because I would know I was actually writing to you. The begging for you to contact me would stop. We could have a relationship, you and I, and even if it was like prisoners in adjoining cells, whispering to each other in the dark, we could share our hearts, share our love. I will not publish your messages if you ask me not to. You can leave them as anonymous comments on this blog, or you could email me if you like, at missingmichaela@gmail.com.

You remember the book we used to read, Michaela? "I love you forever ...  I like you for always ... As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." That's a promise, my sweet girl, no matter what. I love you, I love you, I love you. I want only to bring you comfort, to make things better, and not to make things worse.

mom

81 comments:

  1. Sharon, did Richard Helwig resemble the police drawing of the suspect?

    Wendy

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    1. This lead involves traffickers, not kidnappers. They are not the same. So I have never even tried to find out what Helwig looked like.

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    2. I did just do a search for Helwig and came up with a lot of images that are not him. There is very little about him on the internet. I'm not sure if the internet existed back then ... I know it didn't for me ... but at the very least it was not what it is now, so the stories about Helwig didn't make it onto the worldwide web.

      Apparently there are a number of perfectly respectable people with that name around as well.

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  2. Does Richard Helwig look like the kidnapper? Is there pictures of him in the Internet? I always knew that Amber and Michaela were taken by the same person and possibly Ilene she went missing January 30th 1989. Is there other better suspects that are not Garrido or Herzog?

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    1. Yes there are several prime suspects who are not Garrido or Herzog, although I would caution you about "knowing" anything.

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    2. caution you about "knowing" anything, what do you mean?

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    3. You said you "always knew" Amber and Michaela were taken by the same person. It is just a caution not to make assumptions. Even things that make sense or those leads that sound really good may not be. I know this because I know so many, and they can't all be true.

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    4. And that goes for lead that I just wrote about also, I hate to say. I'd ordinarily think that two children independently stating that Michaela and Amber had been there would be pretty undeniable evidence, but I have learned over the years that things just are not always what they seem to be. There has been enough circumstantial evidence to hang several people in this case, but they can't all be guilty.

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  3. Michaela is about 34 now, and may feel unworthy to come home after this much time. I too echo your invitation, Sharon. "Michaela, come home, you will be welcomed with loving arms, no matter what you've been through. Come home."

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  4. It makes me so angry that this grief is still raw and present in your lives--as I'm sure it does you. I just have no faith in a world that has things like this happening. Willing participants in child victimization of any kind, along with their supporters (or those who passively do nothing, knowing who is participating) should burn in hell. I know my anger doesn't help, but my goodness, it's heartbreaking what is happening to our most vulnerable members of society. I hope you get your answers soon and I hope they are the answers you hope for. You deserve your little girl and she deserves you.

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    1. I agree with you Kim P and feel the same way. I'm praying for a miracle for Michaela and her family. Someone out there know and need to open up and tell the truth.
      Thelma Mandera

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  5. Sharon, I've been following Michaela's story for as long as I can remember. Having just read that book you mentioned to my toddler son, I don't even know how to put into words all the things I would like to say, other than you are in my heart always. If there is any way down here in Florida that I can do anything to spread the word about Michaela, to do anything to help you or your family, please do let me know. I have a blog and even though my readership isn't all that widespread, I would love to help in anyway that I can. <3

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  6. Lord please bring Michaela home to her mother.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this information Sharon. All I can say is thankfully there is hope - hope that Michaela is alive. I wish I could suggest something you didn't already know, but I'm sure I can't. I will share the link to your blog with others. There's so much we just don't know.

    Cindy

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  8. Sharon, is there any way they can re interview the girl friend and the 2 children? Why wasn't there an intensive search when the children had said Michaela had been there? Or perhaps there was. I know there are some things you can't answer, due to the nature of the case, I respect that.~ Cris

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    1. Well more like I can't answer all the questions because I don't know them. I first became aware of this lead in 1991. The first I heard of it was through a friend of mine (Aann!) who was a quite incredible private investigator. But this guy is still on the top suspects list and I have discussed it with our current detective at HPD. But I would guess that they did a very thorough investigation, because they did go to Mexico and talk to the girlfriend and question the daughters. They did conduct a search I know, because they did not find the shirt that the girlfriend said Helwig had given her. Nor did they just lock Helwig away and forget about him. They kept going back, trying to get him to confess when he was on his death bed and had nothing to lose. I think there was a lot of heart put into this.

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  9. I was happy to see this entry. I can see the driven former Sharon back. The one before the news about the DNA of the bone came out. I saw an exhausted,down Sharon. With much understanding. I'm happy to see a renewed drive and hope that Michaela is out there. My mom used to tell me that nothing is ever really lost. If its in this world,its never lost. And I believe Michaela is still in this world. As for people telling you that you should go to another country to search for her,I am sure they mean that with the best of intentions. However I will say,that is a very bad path. You would not only be risking your life but possibly hers as well. Human trafficking is a very dangerous and serious ring of criminals. Aa for Amber,I have very strongly believed Curtus Dean Anderson had nothing to do with her case. He gave a very vague confession and he disliked her mother. I also believe that her abduction,Michaelas,and Amanda "Nikki" Campbells abduction have bore very similar resemblances. And I pray they are all found and brought back to their loved ones. My prayers are with you every day,Sharon. .

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    1. You are absolutely right about Amber, Anonymous. What better way to get back at the mother of a missing child than to make people stop looking for her?

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  10. You mentioned the desire to get the word out to the Persion Gulf. I am way out of my league offering any suggestions so please forgive my ignorance. Would there be a way to pass this information on to those you know (or that your friends know) who are serving in the military and have them pass it by word of mouth or their own FB pages?

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    1. I have always thought that having the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf might be hopeful for Michaela somehow. I don't actually know any people currently in the military there, but if anybody else does it would be great to share.

      I've also wondered about the military news channels. I don't know much about them, though.

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    2. Reuters, CNN, Sony and Fox have locations in the UAE; do you think that you could email those companies and see if they could run a story on Michaela? It might be a long shot, but maybe they could help you.

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    3. Monique do you have information about that? I know they may agencies reporting FROM there, but do they report TO there?

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    4. I don't know anything definitive, but this sounds postive (taken from Fox International): "Our pay and FTA channels in Africa and the Middle East reach over 100 million cumulative 24-hour homes in 15 countries. Our offices are located in Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Dubai and Johannesburg."

      This is the link to their "About" page: http://www.foxinternationalchannels.com/about

      I couldn't find anything on CNN's website, and I haven't looked into Reuters and Sony.

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    5. Hi Sharon,

      I am actually preparing to move to Virginia Beach where there is a large naval station. My brother is not in the navy, but has lived in the area for about 10 years and his wife is a lifelong native. I have been busy with two jobs for the last two years, but I look forward to going out there and connecting in a new town. I will be sure to spread this blog and other info via social media for Michaela!

      And as for this blog entry, my reaction again is just WOW! So many reasonable leads. I googled this case and found a book on Amazon saying they found many pictures with Helwig. Do you know if they identified any of the children, or tried to identify Michaela?

      Diana

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  11. I was recently reading the book series "The girl with the dragon tattoo!" One thing about that book that made me think, was how for 40 years they thought that one thing had happened, and in the end it was completely different. So yes trying to zone in on someone like say Garrido, really muddies the water. Like you said assuming that the kidnapper or kidnapper's took multiple girls, can give you tunnel vision and make you miss the point. sounds to me like the detectives have worked on Multiple suspects and hit on the hot information that comes up, and that is really the only way to do it.
    Curtis Dean Anderson was such a low life that he could surprise the Devil himself with his cruelty. I can see Curtis dying with a smile on his face because he had duped the police in his last act on this earth and made them think he had done something he didnt. Bringing more cruel heartbreak to more victims. Until Amber, Michaela, and Illene are found, they should be looked for like they are alive!
    The UAE has an extreme amount of power in squashing stories that make their tourism look bad. Any story that comes out about someone being arrested for wearing a bikini, or some other incident, it seems to go away quickly. I don't see them allowing the "Thought" of human trafficking being done in their country to even be discussed.

    ~ Rod R.

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    1. That's it exactly, Rod. You know what happens when you assume, right? Awhile back we had a detective on the case who assumed he knew who had kidnapped Michaela. Because of that I think he didn't give the attention and credence to other leads. It makes less difference what the public believes as long as the police don't, but it still bothers me when people get stuck on one idea, because that ignores all other possibilities.

      Right about the rest, too.

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  12. Sharon, Excuse my ignorance about the human trafficking issue. I don't know much about it as I try to avoid reading about it because it literally makes me sick to my stomach.
    What happens to the children (that are taken) after they grow up? Do they let them go free or still keep them in the ring. I am assuming that no one really knows the answer but wanted to ask.
    Do you know if Herzog was known to be associated with these human traffickers?

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    1. Herzog was a killer, not a trafficker. As to your answer to the other question, I really don't know, and I don't know that there is a single answer. Much human trafficking involves labor rather than sex, so I'd guess that if someone was no longer useful for sex they might be put to work. I am with you regarding knowing the details of these things, though, so I'm just guessing.

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    2. Ahhh...it's so tempting to start offering suggestions about how to investigate a suspected child trafficking case in the U.A.E. and then I realize that I'm not an investigator or an expert in human trafficking, nor do I know much about the U.A.E. And yet I can't resist! I wonder if it would be useful to have your investigators contact the U.N. as a point of departure? The U.N. has a protocol on human trafficking, and the U.A.E. is a U.N. member state. I'm so sorry...how annoying it must be to receive suggestions and advice from people who know absolutely nothing. Signing off now!

      Cindy

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  13. Sharon, have you ever considered writing a book about your experience since Michaela's kidnapping? You have a story many people would be interested in reading, and you're a great writer. A book could be translated into several languages and sold throughout the world. It could have the effect of raising awareness about Michaela and of generating funds and support for the search. Just an idea...I'm sure you've thought of it before. I'm just thinking about ways that you could get Michaela's story to a wider audience. Your book could also be a source of support for others who have missing loved ones. You have a gift for connecting with people through writing.

    Cindy

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    1. Cindy I have been working on a book, fiction inspired by fact. I did once write a nonfiction account, but it was missing a resolution.

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    2. There are all kinds of resolutions. Of course your main focus in on resolving Michaela's case, but you've just had a different kind of resolution. You chose to live, to keep hoping instead of giving up and falling into a hole after this horrible bone fragment episode. I'm sure you've had many such ups and downs, downs and ups. In general, I think people give up on missing people. Not the people who love them, and not necessarily the police, but society in general. But we shouldn't accept the nature of these mysteries. You've kept hope alive for 24 years and continue to do so. It's not because you're crazy or deluded; it's because there is a chance she's still alive, and people need to understand that. It's a story about the incredible strength of the hope it takes to get through what you've gone through, and the importance of that hope. I don't think there needs to be anymore resolution than that for it to be a book worth reading. If that weren't the case, I wouldn't be reading your blog. But I'm not trying to convince you. Fiction could be just as effective, if not more. I'm glad to learn that you're writing a book. I mean it when I say I think you're a gifted writer.

      Cindy

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    3. Actually it has been more a matter of step by step realizations, because honestly in the beginning and for some years afterwards I sincerely believed that Michaela was so smart and so brave that if she was still alive she would have found some way to contact me. It was seriously like a series of lights coming on ... And still is, with the most recent light being that she could actually be reading this blog and not responding, and that there might be some really good, compelling reasons for that. This light just snapped on this past week. And that is seriously what these realizations are like. With this one I was thinking about Michaela being the same age that I was when she was kidnapped, and that made me wonder if she had children, and with it the thought of what it is like to lose your child, and this bright light of realization just lit up in my heart!

      My novel, though, allows me to incorporate some of the deeper lessons I have learned through the other characters. And one of be problems I had about writing my own story is that first it is pretty boring, and second, I found I was totally uncomfortable writing about other people and invading their privacy, including my family. And I haven't figured a way to do it without doing that.

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    4. Well, I doubt your story is as boring as you think it is, Sharon. Most great books aren't great because of the plot. They're great because the writer has a way of revealing the inner landscape, or offering a perspective on the otherwise mundane thing that makes us realize something about life, about ourselves, etc. So, yes, if you're able to share your realizations in a meaningful way, as you seem to be able to, I think it would be a wonderful book. And speaking of writing, I must get back to work! :)

      Cindy

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    5. Sharon, I don't know if you've ever read Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan (was originally published in the early 90s and now is available as an e-book via Kindle) but there is a similarity there in that the crime had not (and still has not) been solved. Lois, who is a well-known young adult author, was a contributing editor to the magazine I worked for at the time, and I know that the book did generate both a number of new tips and publicity for her daughter Kaitlyn's case. Of course, in their case, they're also dealing with police malfeasance, which is happily not a problem you're having with the Hayward PD.

      I will also say that your flair for writing and your gift for reaching people would make a non-fiction account of your experiences quite compelling. You're not at all boring - that comes across in your blog. Don't sell yourself short - I'd buy the book! :)

      Julie

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    6. Sharon, I'm an academic so I write articles and books for a very small readership - just my research community. Given the nature of my own writing, I guess I might not be the best judge of what is boring and what is not. :) Nevertheless, I like to think I know good writing when I see it, so I think it's great that you're working on a book, for yourself as much as for Michaela.

      I'm not sure how well I would have survived some periods of my life if it weren't for writing (personal journals, napkin poems, little stories). Writing has always been therapeutic for me in that helps me make sense of things that I can't make sense of any other way. Maybe Michaela has that in her as well, judging from the poem she wrote at the age of 9, and maybe writing is helping her get through, wherever she is.

      I'll also buy your book when you finish it, so there, you already have a readership!

      Cindy

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  14. I heard recently looking for updates In the Charley Project blog and I looked Into Michaela's tag and It says that home was searched In Michaela's case. And there Is a man named David Jensen. I don't remember If you have posted this before.

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    1. No I haven't posted it. There are a lot of leads investigated in Michaela's case that I would not write about, and I wonder why the Charley Project would write about this. It happened quite awhile ago, can't exactly remember but over a year anyway.

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    2. It wrote about It sometime in August 2010 I just wanted to ask you.

      I don't know how to write this question but suspects in Michaela's case that have not been publicized. Are they well known for other crimes?

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    3. There is much on The Charley Project that is inaccurate.

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    4. I haven't looked at Michaela's page lately, but they seem to collect leads that have been investigated and eliminated, and I don't really see the point in that. It makes it sound like actual information, and it isn't. Not sure what their purpose is, but it seems to be misleading.

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    5. They just want to tell the case history

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    6. How many unnamed suspects are there, and has Garrido been ruled out?

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    7. As the police say, nobody is ever 100 percent ruled out unless they were dead or in jail on November 19, 1988. But they have pretty much been investigated and eliminated unless new evidence were to come to light.

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  15. If she were kidnapped and taken to Mexico, wouldn't it also be likely that she might still be still in Mexico, central, or South America?

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    1. Like I said, the information I have been given is that she might be in the United Arab Emirates. I don't know if this information is accurate or not, but it's as possible that she is there as anywhere else. She was not still in the place where she had been seen in Mexico, and from there she could be anywhere in the world, especially over the course of 24 years.

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  16. Thanks again Sharon for sharing this. I just read through all the comments and also read your replies. I will share this link with some of my friends in Africa, the Philippine, and the Netherlands. I'm going to see about having something made to put on my car. Is it alright to put posters up? I would let you see and okay them first.
    I will not give up on Michaela being found. I pray that she will be able to read these links and she will feel safe enough to contact you. You, Michaela and your family will always be in my prayers. <3 We Love You Michaela <3

    Love from
    Thelma Mandera

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    1. Hmmm, well, the thing is that we are not able to put out the traditional "missing" flyers where people are asked to look for this person, because it has been 24 years and we don't know what she looks like (and no, I don't consider the age progression to be accurate enough for this purpose). I have made flyers but they are not informative. They have Michaela's picture as a child and say she is still missing and the website address.

      As silly as it may sound, my search continues to be directed to one person: Michaela. It is also directed to try to touch the hearts of anyone who may know something, to prompt them to tell us, or to help Michaela directly. And I feel this website is the best way to do that, so that is what I want to get out there.

      By the way, the bumper stickers I had made faded horribly. They started out deep burgundy, and at this point the blend in with the paint job on my car, which is silver. They were also VERY expensive.

      Thanks, Thelma.

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    2. Thanks Sharon,
      I agree with what you said about the flyers, and I think this website is a very great tool to use and I believe Michaela will be found.

      Hugs, and continued prayers for You, Michaela and all of your family.

      Thelma Mandera

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  17. I saw The Peanut Butter Solution simply because of Michaela. It's a pretty good kids movie. I'm surprised a movie like that isn't remembered today. I mainly checked it out to see the coincidences. The main characters name is Michael, which is very close to Michaela's name in spelling. Michael's best friend was there to witness something bad happening to him. The father is an artist which I guess could reflect on the fact that you're a writer. This movie also has abductions happening all over the city, which makes me think of the East Bay Area. One thing you should take into account is that the movie not only ends with Michael being found alive and well with the other abducted children, but ends with Michael's mother coming home and the two of them being reunited.

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    1. Very good memory, Anonymous! Where did you find the movie? It's not easy to do that as I recall.

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  18. I found the following information on Richard Helwig that I thought I'd pass along in case you hadn't seen it. Apparently, he was a member of NAMBLA and had some connection to San Francisco. http://books.google.com/books?id=RuPS6PRjDV4C&pg=PA346&lpg=PA346&dq=richard+helwig+mexico&source=bl&ots=4plAqJjeSs&sig=AUefhlORXKBNKHtUsJIFmZzhsa8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vMUGUcv5JevPigKuzoHIBw&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=richard%20helwig%20mexico&f=false

    Kathleen ( I hope this came out right. I'm having trouble posting for some reason.)

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  19. Hello Sharon,

    Just by reading your words I can feel how powerless you must feel, if only I could do something to help!

    Anyway, this may be silly but this is all I could think of: there's this famous Mexican activist who has been working actively against pedophile rings in Mexico.

    I really don't know the details of what she does or rather HOW she works but I've read several interviews with her (she's relatively well known in Europe) so maybe that's someone who could confirm if there are known trafficking routes from Mexico to other countries?

    This is her fundation, the web is in Spanish obviously. http://www.fundacionlydiacacho.org/ Let me know if you need help with translations and I'll be happy to assist.

    As for the UAE... what abouth contacting the American Embassy there? (if there's one) They certainly must have a close contact with the local authorities and media.

    I admire how you're not giving up hope. As always, I wish you all the best.

    M.

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    1. The embassies in the UAE have been contacted, and you will see a page in this blog titled "Michaela -- how to get help," which has their addresses and phone numbers, and even a map to one of them.

      I'll check out the website. I work in immigration law, so there are lots of Spanish speakers around. Thanks!

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  20. I hope this doesn't sound ignorant, but is it possible that Michaela's name may have been changed by her abductors, and that she may not remember that she is michaela? Did I make any sense with that question? She could be out there and not know who she is. Maybe there are clues you could give her in your blog that would trigger her memory?

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    1. I think that she could be out there and have been forced to deny who she was for so long that she no longer thinks about it. I doubt that she really forgets. I think Sharon has given Michaela lots of clues, by telling stories of things that happened when Michaela was little, posting her family photos, her poem. I also think that Sharon was right when she realized that Michaela might not contact her, for any number of reasons. But then again she might.

      I keep hoping for a "miracle" for you Sharon, for all those factors that have to come together to do so, so that you can find Michaela. It is hard to believe that this case has never been solved. It's just so wrong.

      Cindy

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  21. Hi Sharon you can always look on you tube for the peanut butter solution
    Movie just type in the peanut butter solution part one. I bet the music will bring back memories.

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  22. Sharon,,not sure if you've heard. A search was done for Kevin Collins this week. It was at a house not far from where he disappeared. The article stated that preliminary examination of the bones found appeared to be animal bones but they have been sent to the ME for further inspection. Ann Collins,who is now 72,said she would like closure,but not this way. My heart goes out to her. I cannot imagine. I pray you find answers as well. Much love to you.

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    1. Yes, I did hear. I have that on Michaela's Facebook, too.
      www.facebook.com/MichaelaJoyGarecht :)

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    2. And by the way, I love Ann. I think we have always shared a bond because Kevin's and Michaela's birthdays are the same day. But she's one of the really good people in the world as well.

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  23. Hi Sharon... I am always so impressed with the quality of your writing. I've been meaning to compliment you on it, and after reading this most recent post I see that several people beat me to it. I'm a person who reads voraciously - something like a book per week - roughly 3-to-1 fiction to non. I'm also known as something of a "book snob" and I tend to gravitate toward "serious" literature. All this is to say I flatter myself to think I can distinguish really good writing from mediocre writing, and you regularly deliver really very good writing - emotionally engaging, thought-provoking and refreshingly polished. I hope your book project is coming along!

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    1. Wow! Thank you Christine! If only a publisher agreed and offered to give me an advance so I could have time to spend writing! According to the movie, the author of Julie & Julia got all sorts of book offers from her blog.

      Oh well. I suppose I will have to do it the hard way.

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  24. Sharon, do you have any idea how old Helwig's children were when they witnessed seeing Michaela?

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    1. No I don't recall. But they were not Helwig's children. They were his girlfriend's.

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    2. Ok thanks,I was wondering because they most likely saw many little girls pass through. If they were very young they might have been confused or not remembered correctly.

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    3. Oh for sure they could have made a mistake. It seems a little more certain because it would have meant two children making the same mistake separately. But if I didn't allow room for them to be wrong, I wouldn't have been stressing over that bone for all those months. It's not over till it's over and until then all possibilities are possible.

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    4. Not sure how long ago that was but have they reinterviewed them now that they are older.

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    5. It was over twenty years ago, and I don't know if they'd even be able to find the girls today.

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  25. For those who asked,the kids who were questioned in Mexico were 11 or 12 years old, and one was actually a boy. I had said they were both girls, but fortunately our investigator reads my blog and he corrected me.

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    1. When I first read that the kids in Mexico stated that they'd seen Michaela and Amber,I thought one of the girls may have actually been Amber. She was deaf in one ear and had hearing disability. It was the first thought that crossed my mind. And perhaps that Michaela may have been taken in as another child. So many scenarios have gone through my mind. I hope and pray for the best and hope Michaela is out there reading this.

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  26. “p.s.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTP-e40i5Tw

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  27. Here is a 1990 article about RICHARD HELWIG.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1990-02-01/local/me-1371_1_san-diego


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  28. I was wondering Sharon, do you still keep in touch with Katrina?



    P.sfor those who don't know who Katrina is she is the sole witness of Michaela abduction and was a friend.

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    1. The abductor's car was last seen speading south towards Union City. With Michaela inside screaming, its possible he didn't sped far, and maybe she was taken to his home similar to Jaycee Dugard, and be imprisoned. But then Garrido doesn't match the sketch of the suspect, and almost neither does Herzog! Although Herzog was in his 20s at the time, and had dark shoulder length hair, his hair wasn't dirty blonde, and he had no acne like the sketch did, so I wouldn't rule him out, but I also wouldn't consider him just yet. What do think about these facts Sharon?

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  29. i hope she comes home to u or they find her and bring her home to u

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  30. The sketch honestly looks like a woman, I wonder if that possibility was ever considered? I know especially back then, a woman would have likely been much less circumspect.

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    1. Yes there have been several women who have been considered among the suspects over the years.

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