A court is set to decide if 61-year-old David Misch, accused in two separate Alameda County murder cases from the mid-1980s, will stand trial for both cases simultaneously, or if they will be severed. One case involves a double murder that claimed the lives of an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old woman; the other involves a nine-year-old who was abducted and whose remains were never found.
It was back in December 2020 that we learned that a man already behind bars for a 1989 murder had been connected to an abduction and presumed murder that shook the Bay Area in 1988 — one of multiple abductions of local children that made headlines at the time. This was the case of nine-year-old Michaela Garecht, whose friend saw her get kidnapped and dragged into a van in a supermarket parking lot on November 19, 1988.
The two girls had ridden scooters to Rainbow Market in Hayward with $5 to spend, and they bought Mountain Dew, Laffy Taffy and beef jerky, her friend recalled in court testimony in January. When they left the store, they saw one of their two scooters was missing — it had been taken around to the back of the store, to a parking lot, where a suspect use it to lure Michaela closer to his van, at which point he grabbed her.
As the East Bay Times reports, the friend testified that she recognized something in the eyes of David Misch in the courtroom. "The intensity of the eyes, and the shape of them, they struck me as memorable to that day. They remind me of the kidnapper’s eyes," the woman said.
Apart from this apparent identification of Misch and a description match at the time, investigators seem to only have one bit of physical evidence connecting him to the crime — a partial palmprint on Michaela Garecht's scooter that investigators say they linked to Misch's palmprint "literally through eyesight."
Garecht's body was never found, and the defense is planning to argue that there is no proof she was killed — that she could still be alive somewhere, living under a new identity.
Going back to 2018, Misch has also been charged with the 1986 double murders of best friends 18-year-old Michelle Xavier, and 20-year-old Jennifer Duey. The nude bodies of Xavier and Duey were discovered in a remote area near Mill Creek Road in Fremont. Duey, who had apparently struggled with her killer — and she was found to have Misch's DNA under her fingernails — was shot, while Xavier was stabbed to death.
In a hearing on Friday, Misch pleaded not guilty to the three murder charges, and per the East Bay Times, a hearing has been scheduled for May 19 at which the court will decide whether to sever the double murder from the Michaela Garecht case.
But it sounds like the judge now believes a second suspect was involved in the killing of the two women — a suspect identified in court documents only as a former cop with the Fremont and Union City police departments, whose brother was dating one of Duey's relatives. Per the East Bay Times, Judge Paul Delucchi said of the second suspect, "I think he was up to his eyeballs in this thing, I really do. [The two women] wouldn’t have gone up there with David Misch. They didn’t know David Misch from Adam… They would go up there with somebody they recognized and trust[ed]."
Delucchi ruled in January, following a preliminary hearing, that there was sufficient evidence to take Misch to trial in both cases.
The defense has suggested that the presence of Misch's DNA under Duey's fingernails only proves that some contact occurred between the two of them, not necessarily murder.
Misch was convicted in 1990 of the 1989 stabbing murder of 36-year-old Margaret Ball, who was killed in her home in an unincorporated area near Hayward. He had been incarcerated at a state prison medical facility in Stockton until being moved to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin to face trial again — and he's apparently been vocal about hating the food at the jail.
Misch was facing life without parole for Ball's murder, but under new District Attorney Pamela Price, all life-without-parole sentences have been tossed out.
Previously: Convicted Killer Charged In 32-Year-Old Cold-Case Kidnapping and Murder of 9-Year-Old in the East Bay