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Dublin: Candlelight walk to mark 30th anniversary of Ilene Misheloff's disappearance

'Getting her back is what we live for ... The support is what keeps us going'

The Dublin community is set to come together next week to commemorate a somber anniversary.

Wednesday will mark 30 years since Ilene Misheloff disappeared while walking home from middle school, a case that sent shockwaves through what was then a much smaller suburban city.

The impact of Ilene's disappearance continues to resonate with the community to this day. Each year on Jan. 30, dozens of residents -- some friends of the Misheloffs, others total strangers -- join the family for a candlelight walk and vigil to remember Ilene and rekindle awareness about her abduction.

Next week will be no different.

"Thirty extremely long years," Ilene's mother, Maddi Misheloff, said looking ahead to the anniversary. There are still many days, she said, that "the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is thinking today is the day she's coming home."

"Getting her back is what we live for," Maddi Misheloff said. "The support is what keeps us going."

"The community support is still there," added Mike Misheloff, Ilene's father. "It's been there for 30 years, which I find amazing -- that people still remember and still want to help find Ilene."

Ilene's disappearance is a story many longtime Tri-Valley residents know well.

The 13-year-old girl was last seen walking home the afternoon of Jan. 30, 1989.

A student at Wells Intermediate School (now called T.D. Wells Middle School), Ilene was excused early from her physical education class toward the end of the school day, receiving permission to go home and change into her ice-skating clothes.

She was spotted walking on San Ramon Road and Amador Valley Boulevard that afternoon. A teen with curly brown hair, freckled cheeks and braces, Ilene wore a charcoal gray pullover, striped skirt and low-top sneakers to school that day.

Her key fob was later found near the entrance to John Mape Memorial Park, along the route she typically took home.

Ilene's whereabouts remain unknown.

The case has been highlighted across the Bay Area and the United States over the past three decades, from local TV news broadcasts to regional and national articles on cold-case kidnappings.

The FBI maintains a webpage on Ilene, as do some private websites devoted to awareness of missing children and teenagers. Some have age-progressed photos attempting to project what Ilene would look like during her adult years -- the most recent being mid-30s. There's been a $95,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of those responsible.

"There's got to be somebody out there who knows what happened," Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt said. "We ask those people to come forward to help us one day solve this mystery."

Ilene's investigation remains "near and dear to our heart," according to Schmidt, who said the department hopes to be able to help bring closure for the family.

"Dublin police have been awesome; they've been behind us all the way," Maddi Misheloff said, noting that the department always has a dedicated detective assigned to Ilene's case. "It's an open case until it's resolved."

The Misheloffs live in the same house in Dublin that Ilene called home.

Their other children -- Ilene's twin brother Brian, and their older brother Rob -- are long-grown and out on their own. Brian still lives in the area.

Mike Misheloff is retired now after an engineering career, mainly in Silicon Valley. Maddi Misheloff has also stopped working after years as an office manager, but she thinks she could go back if the right part-time opportunity presents itself. She serves her community as well, on the Dublin San Ramon Services District Board of Directors -- a publicly elected position.

They both are looking ahead to next Wednesday night's candlelight walk, which retraces the two-mile route Ilene took that ill-fated afternoon, to make sure Ilene will always be remembered and to keep hope alive that she will return safely. She would turn 44 in March.

The annual Ilene Misheloff Candlelight Walk and Prayer Service is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Wells Middle School (6800 Penn Drive in Dublin). The procession will end at St. Raymond Catholic Church (11555 Shannon Ave.), where a non-denominational service will be held in Ilene's honor.

In announcing the 30th anniversary walk, Dublin police officials also urged anyone who knows anything about Ilene's disappearance to contact Sgt. Daniel McNaughton at 925-833-6682. Tips can remain anonymous.

"Anyone that has any information that they have kept to themselves, call the police," Maddi Misheloff said. "It doesn't matter ... Getting her back is what matters."

And the family's message to Ilene?

"We love you. Can't wait to have you back. Not a day goes by, not a second, that I don't think about you," Maddi Misheloff said.

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