Michaela Garecht Case
Michaela's mom says 'no' to billboards SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mother of kidnap victim Michaela Garecht declined an offer to place her daughter's photo on 200 billboards billboards around the nation and severed severed ties with a group founded by the parents of missing Kevin Collins. Sharon Garecht said Friday a billboard message that would have appeared along with a toll-free number is too morbid and could frighten her 9-year-old daughter, who was abducted outside a neighborhood neighborhood market Nov. 19. Garecht agreed, however, to allow NBC to re-enact the kidnapping kidnapping for the television show "Unsolved Mysteries," which will air Dec. 12. The crime will also be recreated on a new cable show, "Has Anyone Seen My Child." The mother, who will be interviewed interviewed for the program, will appear in 10- and 30-second public service messages that will begin airing next week on such cable outlets as CNN and USA Network. The black-and-white billboards, which would have run for one- month, were to have carried one of two messages: "If you assume she's dead, she is" or "First, assume she's alive." "It doesn't matter what people assume," Garecht said. "And it's a morbid message. My daughter can read and if she was going down a highway and saw that message it would be pretty devastating. "We wanted something like, 'Please help get me home,' " Garecht said. Garecht's decision was part of a falling out with San Francisco's Kevin Collins Foundation, a search group created five years ago by David and Ann Collins after their son, Kevin, 10, vanished off a street and was never seen again. Garecht said she was concerned the foundation, which distributed several thousand flyers of Michaela immediately after she was abducted, had not referred all of the approximately 50 calls it received to the Hayward Police Department. "I think it's a mistake," said David Collins, referring to Garecht's request that the foundation foundation remove itself from the search for Michaela. "There's got to be awareness nationwide and getting her picture in front of as many people people as possible. But I respect their feelings," Collins said. Garecht said the foundation did "a terrific job" making her daughter's daughter's face known and distributing flyers of the suspected abductor, a young white male with long blond hair and an acne-scared face. But she said the number of calls received was surprisingly low, and she asked in a letter Friday that volunteers volunteers stop the distribution effort. That's a strange statement," said David Collins. "I've been around here five years and she's been around about 13 days. They're hurt and some of the things they say, well, we've been the target." The billboard deal arranged by the foundation was to be in cooperation cooperation with Gannett Outdoor of New York and the Patrick Media Group, of Scranton, Pa. The' companies agreed to donate the space, which would normally cost $110,000. Collins said he thought Garecht had approved a billboard poster that would have stated, "First assume she's alive." But Garecht said it was never discussed. discussed. The other poster reading, "If you assume she's dead she is," was reviewed and rejected. According to Collins, the billboards billboards already had been printed and could not be changed. The family of missing Amber Swam-Garcia, of Pinole, also ended its tie with the foundation. But the girl's stepfather, Al Garcia, said he did not want to discuss the matter, calling it a "side issue." Amber, now 8, is believed to have been abducted outside her home about four months ago. There were no witnesses.