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Football Star Joe Montana Appeals For Return of Missing Child

November 29, 1988

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Football quarterback Joe Montana and his wife, flanked by FBI agents, made a dramatic appeal Tuesday for the safe return of a 9-year-old girl who was abducted from a market on Nov. 19.

″We’re here as parents ... to ask the kidnapper of Michaela to please release her,″ said the San Francisco 49ers player. ″Jennifer and I talk just about nightly how we would feel going through this. I know and she knows how important it would be if this were our daughter for someone to come forward.″

Michaela Garecht was abducted from a supermarket parking lot near her home in Hayward, across the bay from San Francisco. An 8-year-old girl who was with her described the man as white, anywhere from 18 to his early 20s, 6 feet tall with shoulder-length, blond hair and a pockmarked or pimpled face.

The Montanas, who have two young daughters, spoke at the request of the FBI at the agency’s San Francisco office.

The FBI said it has intensified the search for the child by sending 40,000 information packets to truck stops and police departments nationwide. The packets include recent photographs of the blue-eyed youngster and an artist’s sketch of the man who took her.

Mrs. Montana said she thinks about the kidnapping every day.

″We went looking for a Christmas tree last night,″ she said. ″I called out to my daughter, (who was) running to other trees. I tried to keep a close eye on them, but they’re monsters and they’re everywhere.

″I called out for Alexandria and she didn’t answer,″ she said. ″I called her twice and she didn’t answer. Immediately that (kidnapping) goes through my mind. I said, ‘You answer me right now.’ And I hear in the distance, ‘Yes, mama.’ And my heart starts to pump again. That’s the way it is.″

Montana said the thought of losing one of their daughters to a kidnapper ″just about brings tears to our eyes. To watch another parent going through that is just devastating to us. We just pray that it never happens to us and that, hopefully, these children will come back.″

FBI spokesman Chuck Latting said the agency contacted Montana because ″we thought this would be a very appropriate public figure.″

″This is a totally different type of kidnapping than usual,″ Latting said. ″It’s a child and there’s no demand for ransom and no correspondence. It’s not a runaway and there are no parents or relatives suspected and no one who knows her or has been seen with her. It’s just a snatch off the street.″

More than 100 police officers and FBI agents earlier this week searched through wooded hills, and at least a dozen FBI agents are working full time on the case, Latting said.

″We have never had an investigation of this magnitude,″ Hayward Police Officer Ray Alsdorf said.

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