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Joe Montana and Wife Make Dramatic Appeal To Kidnapper

November 30, 1988 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Quarterback Joe Montana and his wife made an emotional televised appeal to the kidnapper of a 9-year-old girl who is the object of an intense FBI search that has yielded few clues and left police baffled.

The San Francisco 49er star said Tuesday the thought of losing one of his two 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.″

Michaela Joy Garecht was abducted Nov. 19 from a supermarket parking lot near her home in Hayward, across the bay from San Francisco. An 8-year-old girl who was with Michaela described the man as white, 18 to early 20s, 6 feet tall with shoulder-length, blond hair and a pockmarked or pimpled face.

″We’re here as parents ... to ask the kidnapper of Michaela to please release her,″ said Montana said, responding to an unusual request from the FBI’s San Francisco office.

Authorities also announced an intensive effort to find Michaela by sending 40,000 information packets to truck stops, hospitals and police departments nationwide. They include recent photos of the blond-haired, blue-eyed youngster and an artist’s sketch of the man who took her.

Jennifer Montana said she thinks about the kidnapping every day when she’s with her children, Alexandria, 3, and Elizabeth, 23 months.

″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 he and his wife have become ″very cautious″ about their children, ″and we urge everybody else to be.″

FBI spokesman Chuck Latting said the agency contacted Montana because ″we thought this would be a very appropriate public figure that people would stop and listen to. He was extremely receptive to doing this.″

Latting couldn’t recall another kidnapping case in which an unrelated celebrity was asked to make a public appeal for the return of the victim.

″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 just a snatch off the street.″

Dick Held, special agent in charge of the San Francisco office, said it’s highly unlikely that Michaela’s kidnapper is looking for money, ″so it puts law enforcement in a position where we’re really totally dependent on the public to get involved.″

More than 100 police officers and FBI agents earlier this week searched the wooded hills nearby without finding any evidence.

At least a dozen FBI agents are working full time on the case, Latting said, along with at least two dozen more investigators from Hayward and neighboring police agencies.

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