Dateline | January 11, 2013
>>> michelle le had been missing for weeks, no break in the case at all and then just before we sat down for an interview with the private investigator named michael fame his phone rang with a tip from an inmate who claimed to know where michelle could be found.
>> so who do you think is involved in michelle 's disappearance?
>> what is this guy saying? what did he tell you?
>> he said his information is to a potential site where michelle may be.
>> fame made the trip out to the jail for a face-to-face interview.
>> the parolee's information was that she was abducted and was being held in a house in hayward, and it turned out that this information was related to another criminal act and it had nothing to do with mish will's disappearance.
>> back in hayward the police might have been accomplishing something, but they were saying nothing. beyond their belief that michelle was dead and as far as the family could tell, the police investigation seemed to be getting nowhere. now the family's own private investigator seemed lost in the weeds, as well, hoping to shake loose a lead, they increased the amount of the reward money of $20,000 to $40,000 to $65,000, to $100,000. all from private donations. much of it out of the family's own pockets. so every day was precious said her brother, michael and every day that passed a missed opportunity to find her.
>> she was always looking out for me until i -- this was my time to -- to do everything i can to look out for her and to make sure that the hell she was going through she wouldn't have to go through a day longer.
>> you must have this sense that any day now we'll find her and we'll bring her back and everything will be okay.
>> every day we were hoping that today was the day. every day.
>> it was obvious, as we talked to michael the intensity of his devotion for michelle , the reason for that? he told us a story about their mother.
>> our mom was pretty much our superhero and she worked long hours and she was an incredible mother to us. she was so loving and she would always tell us stories and --
>> stories about what?
>> one that we always loved was one called the woman on the moon and it's a love story about if you look really hard enough the shadows of the moon kind of looks like a woman with long, flowy hair and on the same day of the year she would come down looking for the one that she loved and ultimately she was trapped on the moon to watch over him.
>> folklore is the kind of reality that is like armor for a child that protects in a time of terror. michael was 11 when his mother learned she had breast cancer , but she did not tell him. she protected him from the worst of it, both he and his 14-year-old sister michelle and so when the cancer finally took her life.
>> it was a shock. she died december 1, 1999 , and we had just seen her for thanksgiving maybe about a week ago. now alone, michael and michelle were taken in by krystine's family.
>> she told me a story about how after her mom passed away she didn't even know what to do at first until she saw michael in the garage holding something of his mom's and crying. she told me, you know, that was the time i knew it was time to be big sister and be a mother figure for him.
>> overcome her own sense of loss and --
>> save this boy.
>> you couldn't even tell she was having any trouble.
>> she made a sort of commitment to -- between her and i that she would look out for me.
>> but not just michael . michelle also kept watch over krystine.
>> she was like my older sister. she dressed me. she helped tweeze my eyebrows. she taught me how to doic maup.
>> she taught you about boys.
>> talked to me about boys all of the time and taught me how to write love letters and we were so alike that my family started calling me mini michelle .
>> they issued press releases, anything to keep michelle 's case in the public eye .
>> i needed to work on something all of the time. that was her, every day. that was her every day.
>> did you feel like you were getting anywhere?
>> it felt productive, but it still felt hopeless -- hopeless in the sense that you still don't know what's going on.
>> after weeks of casting about, they were no closer to finding michelle than there had been that first chaotic weekend and it was sad, but perfectly understandable that public interest began to wane. it was during that period of darkness when one of michelle 's uncles down in san diego asked for help from this woman, carrie mcgonigle.
>> why her?
>> because carrie had been through it all herself. two years earlier she had to search for her murdered daughter, amber dubois and now carrie ran a search organization in memory of her daughter. she couldn't know back then the role she was going play, the events she would set in motion, but now it was who she knew.
>> i put them in touch with mark klaas because he was up in northern california and they were up in the same area.
>> mark klaas, rare man with a rare skill. how to find the missing.
>> coming up, a man who knows how it feels to lose a daughter and had learned from personal experience how to lead the search.
>> we needed help from the police and when we pressed them why should we be looking there, they finally said because that's where the cell towers take us.
>> when "vanished" continues. right in