Police identify suspect and DA files charges in cold case that has haunted the Bay Area for over 30 years

Oakland, CA- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley has filed a criminal complaint against David Misch. The complaint charges Misch with the murder and kidnapping of Michaela Garecht on November 19, 1988, in the city of Hayward. In addition to the charge of Murder, a violation of Penal Code Section 187, the District Attorney also alleges Special Circumstances in that Michaela was murdered in the course of a kidnapping, a violation of Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(17)(ii), and the Special Circumstance of being convicted previously of murder, a violation of Penal Code Section 190.2(a)(2).

Michaela Garecht was only nine years old when she was kidnapped outside a neighborhood market in Hayward. The brazen kidnapping occurred mid-morning on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For more than 32 years, Michaela has never been seen or heard from, nor has her body or any of her remains been found. However, fingerprints found on the scooter she was riding at the time she was abducted matched Misch’s fingerprints. Further, eyewitness evidence places Misch in the immediate location at the time the kidnapping occurred.

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

Michaela was kidnapped on the morning of November 19, 1988 after she and her friend rode scooters to the Rainbow Grocery on Mission Blvd in Hayward. They left the scooters outside while they entered the store to buy some snacks. Several minutes later when they came out, one of the scooters had been moved behind a car parked in a nearby space. When Michaela went to fetch the scooter, the driver of that car grabbed her as soon as she walked past his door. He forced her into the front seat of the car. He backed out and sped south on Mission Blvd.

Hayward Police Department never stopped looking for the man who kidnapped and killed Michaela. Around the 30th anniversary of Michaela’s kidnapping, they once again scrutinized all evidence, leads and potential witnesses. Their current fingerprint examiner was provided names of persons of interest. Misch’s name was one of the names provided to her. She began comparing the fingerprints of the names given to her. She was able to match Misch’s fingerprints to those on the scooter. Their ability now to compare prints has been significantly advanced through software, technology and science.

These charges come after more than three decades of investigation led by the Hayward Police Department with the help of many local law enforcement agencies as well as the FBI. The tireless work of Hayward detectives, who never gave up on the case, enabled the DA’s office to file these charges.

District Attorney Nancy O’Malley thanks the Hayward Police Department and their dedicated personnel for their unwavering efforts to solve this case. Deputy District Attorney Mark Melton from the Cold Hit Unit worked tirelessly with the Hayward investigators over the entirety of this investigation. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work to see justice done.

Misch is currently facing other charges in Alameda County for the murder of two women in Fremont committed in 1986, and is also currently serving time in State Prison for the 1989 murder of a woman in the Hayward area.

Misch is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, December 22nd at 8:30 am in Department 712. All proceedings are conducted remotely via Bluejeans.


PIO Anna Kelly //Anna.Kelly@acgov.org// (510) 919-0081

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Posted on Dec 21, 2020