Sharon Murch believed she eventually would find her daughter Michaela, who was taken more than a decade ago. The miraculous reunion of another little California girl with her family 18 years after her abduction has only brightened that hope.
"I know that if Jaycee Dugard can be found alive and come home after 18 years, then my daughter can be found alive and come home," Murch said Tuesday at a news conference in front of Phillip and Nancy Garrido's home.
The Garridos have been charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in 1991. Authorities say they held her captive in a squalid backyard encampment of tents and sheds and that Phillip Garrido fathered two children with Dugard.
The Garridos have pleaded not guilty.
Dugard, now 29, was reunited with her family Aug. 27. She was abducted at age 11 outside her South Lake Tahoe home in broad daylight as her stepfather watched in horror.
Similar circumstances between Dugard's kidnapping and the abductions of Michaela in 1988 and of Ilene Misheloff in 1989 have prompted investigators on Tuesday to search the Garridos' home in Antioch for clues to those cases.
Sketch of suspect resembles Garrido
Michaela was taken outside a market in Hayward where she was buying candy with a friend. A sketch of a suspect in her abduction resembles photographs of Phillip Garrido at the time, Hayward police Lt. Christine Orrey said.
There were also similarities in the getaway vehicle used in Michaela's kidnapping and a car found on the Garrido property, Orrey said.
Investigators in Dublin, where Ilene was taken, also noted similarities between a vehicle found on the Garridos' property and one that a witness reported seeing Ilene getting into on the day of her disappearance. They also said a previous rape conviction for Phillip Garrido raised concern.
"We know that based on the Dugard investigation as well as Mr. Garrido's history, people who commit these offenses tend to be predatory and tend to have multiple victims," said Dublin police Lt. Kurt von Savoye.
Garrido, a registered sex offender, had demonstrated a propensity to target young girls, according to court papers.
Investigators from both departments said Garrido had opportunity. He was out of prison at the times of the two abductions, and both cities are less than 50 miles from Antioch.
During the search of Garrido's home on Tuesday, police said they were looking for clothes, DNA evidence, remains and other evidence of the abductions. Orrey said police hadn't found anything "earth-shattering," but Murch remained encouraged.
She made an emotional appeal to her daughter, saying: "Michaela, if you're out there somewhere within the sound of my voice, I just want you to know that we love you, we miss you."
Investigators planned to return Wednesday to the Antioch property and a site next door. Orrey said investigators were using equipment that could pick up pieces of dental fillings and teeth in the soil and any disturbances in the ground. She said they were also interested in what's behind walls, under flooring and under the ground.
Murch said she's never stopped looking for her daughter and Dugard's case only encouraged her that the family could eventually find peace.
"I have to have hope that she's still alive somewhere," she said.
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