HAYWARD — Investigators are trying to determine whether a bone fragment found in a Central Valley well is that of Michaela Garecht, a 9-year-old Hayward girl who was kidnapped nearly 24 years ago, police said Thursday.
The 3-inch piece of bone was among the human remains excavated earlier this year from an old Linden well that's believed to hold victims of a pair of convicted murderers known as the "Speed Freak Killers."
The fragment has been sent to a Virginia lab to undergo DNA testing to see if it belongs to Garecht, said Hayward police Sgt. Eric Krimm. It will be at least several weeks before the test results are available.
Garecht's abduction outside a Hayward grocery store on Nov. 19, 1988, prompted a massive police investigation, and what happened to her has remained a mystery.
"I can only tell you it's a possibility" that the bone belongs to Garecht, Krimm told The Associated Press. "In an investigation of this magnitude, we are going to explore all avenues."
The fragment was found among the remains of Joann Hobson, who disappeared in 1985 at age 16. Hobson's mother, Joan Shelley, sent the remains to a California State University, Chico laboratory that determined the teen's bones were mixed in with those of at least two other individuals.
"I am in a rage over this," Shelley told The Stockton Record.
Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog were convicted of killing four people during a 15-year, methamphetamine-fueled killing spree. Investigators believe the two may have killed as many as 19 people.
Hayward police are investigating the possibility that the fragment is that of Garecht for two reasons: The bone is believed to be that of a child, and Garecht was abducted during the same period that Herzog and Shermantine committed the murders, Krimm said.
Garecht's mother, Sharon Murch, said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday that if the fragment is that of Garecht, she will be glad to at least know the truth.
"I feel an overwhelming desire to bring Michaela home," Murch said. "It breaks my heart to think of her little body lying in that God forsaken place for all these years, and if that is so, I want to gather her up and bring her home."
In January, Shermantine began revealing locations of victims from his cell at San Quentin Prison's Death Row. Herzog, who was on parole in Lassen County, committed suicide on Jan. 16, the same day he learned Shermantine was speaking to investigators.