DUBLIN -- It has been 25 years since 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff was abducted on her way home from school. She was last seen Jan. 30, 1989, at the crossing of San Ramon Road and Amador Valley Boulevard in Dublin.
From there, it was Ilene's habit to take a shortcut home by walking behind nearby businesses, and then through a dry creek bed adjacent to what's now Mape Memorial Park.
Police theorize that she was taken against her will somewhere along that route. While her backpack was discovered in the creek bed weeks later, Ilene has not been seen or heard from since. Her parents don't know what happened to her, but they continue to hope she will return home safely.
But somebody knows what happened to Misheloff.
And at 7 p.m. Thursday, her parents, Maddi and Mike Misheloff, will spend the evening the way they have every Jan. 30 since she disappeared, by leading a candlelight walk and vigil in their daughter's honor to encourage anyone with information to come forward.
"Whoever's out there that knows something that they haven't shared, please, even anonymously, share it with the police department," Maddi Misheloff said. "It could be the one thing that brings Ilene home."
Those who knew Ilene at the time describe her as a bright young girl and passionate ice skater who had been awarded medals locally.
The Dublin Police Department has a detective assigned to work on Ilene's case. Over the years, police have amassed countless tips, investigated leads, identified some persons of interest, and tried to connect the crime to other admitted child abductors in the area -- but haven't found any definitive answers.
Since last year, no new helpful tips have come in, so police are taking a harder look at old leads, and carefully going through Ilene's case file, which is now thousands of pages long, said Dublin police Lt. Herb Walters.
"Our main detective on the case, Daniel McNaughton, has read through that entire case file at least four times," Walters said. "Every time we get a tip, we follow it up."
For Ilene's parents, it has been a 25-year struggle to deal with the day-to-day emotional terror of having a missing child, while trying to find effective ways to help raise awareness about her disappearance while still taking care of life's other responsibilities. The couple has two other children, who are now fully grown, and a grandchild. They say the community response has helped them work through their pain as best they can.
But both Maddi and Mike say they feel just as frantic and distraught as they did when they first learned their daughter was missing. They desperately want answers, and those intense feelings have dominated their thoughts every day -- for the more than 9,000 days since Ilene's abduction.
"When she was first taken, the skating rink put together a fundraiser for her, and it was going to take place in five weeks. She had only been gone 24 hours, which is longer than I thought I could live through, and I remember thinking: 'There's no way she's going to be gone that long. She can't,'" Maddi recalled. "The five weeks came and went, and now here we are 25 years later."
A public candlelight walk in Ilene's honor will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wells Middle School, 6800 Penn Drive, Dublin. It will finish at St. Raymond's Church, 11555 Shannon Ave., where there will be an ecumenical prayer and brief ceremony.
The walk is about two miles. Mike Misheloff says anyone who can't do the walk is welcome to come to the church afterward and participate in the other part of the vigil.
There is a $100,000 reward being offered for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Ilene's disappearance. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Dublin police at 800-635-6306 or 925-833-6670. For more information, visit www.find-ilene.org.
Ilene's mother has a message from her and Mike for their daughter: "Our baby, if you can hear us, if you're listening, watching, reading ... we love you, and we can't wait to get you back," she said.
A candlelight walk is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Wells Middle School, 6800 Penn Drive, Dublin. It will finish at St. Raymond's Church, 11555 Shannon Ave., where there will be an ecumenical prayer and brief ceremony in Ilene's honor.