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Mikelle Biggs

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:24 pm    Post subject: Mikelle Biggs Reply with quote

Mikelle was last seen riding her bicycle near her family's residence in Mesa, Arizona on January 2, 1999. Mikelle and her younger sister thought they heard an ice cream truck's music in the distance and asked their mother for money. Mikelle and her sister waited for the truck near Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue at approximately 5:50 p.m. Her sister became cold and returned to the family's home for a coat. Their mother sent her back for Mikelle, but she had disappeared. Mikelle's bicycle and her two quarters were found near the street where she had been standing. The bicycle was not at the corner, but partially back towards the house.
Authorities searched the entire area near Mikelle's family's home, but no evidence pertaining to her whereabouts was found. Authorities were unable to confirm if an ice cream truck was in the area at the time of her disappearance, but all ice cream vendors in the area were cleared of involvement in Mikelle's case. Known sex offenders in the vicinity were also cleared of any connection to Mikelle.

There have been many false leads in Mikelle's case. On January 9, police dug up what appeared to be a freshly-dug grave outside of Mesa. They found nothing. Two witnesses were put under hypnosis in hopes that they would remember something, but nothing came of that. A copper-colored jeep was reportedly spotted near Mikelle's home at the time she was last seen, but when its driver was located he was ruled out as a suspect and he had seen nothing usual. Houses in the neighborhood were searched with the consent of their owners, but to no avail. Only one homeowner refused to permit a search; he is not considered a suspect. On March 10, 1999, a man reportedly tried to abduct two girls, a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old, from a schoolyard. Police thought the incident might have been connected to Mikelle's case, but the "abduction" was revealed to be a hoax.

Investigators have released sketches of two possible suspects in Mikelle's disappearance. Both images are posted below this case summary. The sketches are not being widely publicized since authorities are not certain if the men are connected to her case.

Mikelle's father believes he knows who was reponsible for his daughter's apparent abduction. The man, who has not been identified, is currently incarcerated in an Arizona prison and denies any involvement in the case. On the fifth anniversary of Mikelle's disappearance, her family held a funeral for her with an empty casket. Her family now lives in Gilbert, Arizona. They believe Mikelle was murdered shortly after her disappearance. No charges have been filed against anyone in her disappearance.

Mikelle is described an intelligent, artistic, sociable person and an honor student. She played the clarinet and was a member of her school's student council at the time of her disappearance. She wanted to become an animator when she grew up. Her favorite color is purple and she has two younger sisters and a younger brother. There are few leads in Mikelle's disappearance and her case remains unsolved.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:31 pm    Post subject: COMMUNITY UNITED IN HUNT FOR MESA GIRL Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
By Jim Walsh
January 5, 1999

A bicycle, riderless, tipped sideways on a residential street. Nearby, two quarters that were given an 11-year-old girl to buy ice cream.

The single stark image frames the disappearance of little Mikelle Biggs of Mesa. It also raises several key questions: How?

How does a girl, just four houses from her home, vanish? Without a scream or a cry heard? Without a suspicious character seen?

Minutes before the abduction Saturday evening, other neighborhood kids had milled about the area, all waiting, as Mikelle had done, for an ice cream truck they thought they had heard. It was, by all accounts, an uneventful though futile wait.

The children dispersed until there remained only Mikelle. Young and diminutive, Mikelle is also bright, a gifted student who knows "stranger danger" as well as she does her favorite subjects of art and reading, her parents say.

How could she have disappeared, seemingly without a trace? The questions have vexed family friends and neighbors as much as the answers remain elusive to police.

Armed with few solid clues, authorities switched gears in their search for Mikelle on Monday night, setting up six roadblocks around Gilbert Road and Southern Avenue to question people who regularly drive through the area about 6 p.m.

In addition, Detective Jose Martinez, a police spokesman, said officers are looking for a copper Jeep CJ with a light-colored top that was seen leaving the area about the time Mikelle disappeared. About 20 FBI agents joined 75 Mesa police officers - many who were not scheduled to work Monday - in the search, police said.

Throughout the weekend, police and neighbors had saturated the area, conducting door-to-door searches and passing out fliers, respectively.

Mikelle's disappearance, like those of all children, rallied people together.

"You look at her, and she could be one of our kids," said Kym Pasqualini of the Nation's Missing Children Organization, which posted Mikelle's picture on its Web site.

It's the most sincere outpouring from the community in our five years in Phoenix, she said.

Volunteers such as Christine Blodget, a neighbor, and Paul Tachias, a friend of Mikelle's father, had distributed 12,000 fliers by Sunday night. Printing companies donated an additional 35,000 Monday.

About 500 volunteers gathered Sunday night at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stake center where the Biggs family attends services.

"The community has been so great. It's unbelievable," said Connie Huff, Mikelle's grandmother. "It's been a lot of comfort to us that people have been so involved."

Neighbors in the typical middle-class neighborhood are forming a Block Watch after past efforts failed. "It's a shame it's taken something like this to get people motivated," Blodget said.

Mikelle, whose name is derived from Michael, her father's first name, is smart and creative, an honor roll student in the sixth grade. She loves art and playing the clarinet, and even made a board game for her family as a Christmas present, Michael Biggs said.

No one suspected that something as mundane as getting a cool treat would turn out so nightmarish.

"She came in and said she heard the sound of the ice cream truck, but she couldn't tell where it was coming from," said Tracy Biggs, her mother.

Mikelle's younger sister and other children went home when they tired of waiting for the truck, but Mikelle stayed behind.

Her bicycle was found in the street at El Moro Avenue and Toltec Street, along with the two quarters Tracy Biggs gave her to buy ice cream.

Family members are doing their best to keep a positive attitude.

"It seems kind of bleak, but I think it's both good and bad that we haven't heard anything," Michael Biggs said.

"It's good that I haven't heard anything negative. It's bad that I don't have any information. I don't like feeling helpless."

Biggs said his little girl is friendly once she gets to know someone, but very reserved otherwise.

"She's not the one who would be easily tricked," said Blodget, the neighbor. "She'd be the one to tell someone to get away from her."

Connie Huff said her granddaughter would call someone for help if she could get away from an abductor. "She's a very sharp little kid," Huff said.

But while Jeff Huff remains hopeful that his niece will come home alive and well, he can't deny having some doubts.

"Experience and history shows that the longer it goes on, the less likely there's a good outcome," he said.

A reward fund has been established in Mikelle's name at Bank of America, family members said.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:34 pm    Post subject: MOLESTER MAY BE LEAD TO MESA GIRL Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: By Alexa Haussler
January 10, 1999

Police are hoping one Mesa girl's terrifying Christmas Day ordeal will help crack the disappearance of 11-year-old Mikelle Biggs.

Investigators are checking for a link between Mikelle's Jan. 2 disappearance and the attempted molestation eight days earlier of another 11-year-old girl less than a mile away.

Mesa police released a composite sketch Saturday of a man they say lured the girl behind an apartment complex in the 600 block of South Stapley Drive and tried to force her to perform oral sex on him.

"We certainly feel it's a lead," said Detective Jose Martinez, a Mesa police spokesman.

The girl escaped without performing the act on the man, who was grimy and appeared to be a transient, police said. The incident took place at 4 p.m. Dec. 25.

Police interviewed several witnesses who said they saw the man in the complex several times before the attack, Martinez said.

They have not seen the man since.

Mikelle disappeared about 6 p.m. on Jan. 2.

Police have not connected the two cases, he said.

"But there are a lot of things that concern us. The geographical location, the victims, the act," he said.

Witnesses described the man as a 5-foot, 10-inch White male in his 40s, weighing about 140 pounds. He has blond hair and brown eyes, acne scars on his face and badly decayed front teeth.

He was riding a blue mountain bike, Martinez said.

On Saturday, police set up six roadblocks near Mikelle's home to interview people who were driving through the area.

"We are just trying to duplicate last Saturday night," Martinez said.

Authorities found nothing after searching a mound of earth 15 miles north of Saguaro.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:36 pm    Post subject: $31,000 OFFERED IN MISSING-GIRL CASE Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: By Jim Walsh
January 13, 1999

Authorities on Tuesday announced a $31,000 reward in the mysterious disappearance of Mikelle Biggs, hoping that money can lead to answers where sweat, tears and prayers have failed.

Especially if the 11-year-old Mesa girl was indeed abducted by a stranger or strangers, as her parents and others believe.

If it's a team of abductors, "you can try to get one to roll on the other" with the bait of a substantial reward, Mesa police Detective Jose Martinez said.

"Maybe they're bragging to someone," who might turn them in for money, Martinez said.

Mikelle's parents, who attended a news conference announcing the reward, maintained hope.

"We will find you. Just hang in there," Tracy Biggs said in a short message to her daughter.

Among the donations to the reward fund is $20,000 from the K.C. Johnson Foundation, whose board of directors seeks to honor the memory of 9-year-old K.C. Johnson, who drowned tragically, by helping a little girl who now has been missing for 11 days.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a foundation board member, said the money will be paid for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Mikelle's disappearance.

His assistant, Lisa Allen, said she is setting up an account at Wells Fargo Bank.

Mesa police have fielded about 4,000 tips in the case, most of them dead-end or bogus leads. Other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have joined in. The latest is Globe police, who have detained two men who resemble a molester who struck Christmas Day around the Biggses' neighborhood.

Sgt. Ray Tarango, a Globe police detective, said Tuesday that the two men, arrested by his agency on unrelated charges, resemble the composite drawing of a man sought in the attempted molestation at an apartment complex a mile from Mikelle's house.

One of the men is a 32-year-old who was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He has served time for theft, drug possession and sale, and driving under the influence, but not for sex crimes, court records show.

Maricopa County Superior Court records also indicate the man had at one time lived about two miles from Stapley Drive and Broadway Road, where the attempted molestation occurred.

The second detained man is a 27-year-old transient who was arrested Dec. 30 for suspected shoplifting. He has, however, been jailed since his arrest, including on Jan. 2, when Mikelle vanished as she ventured outside her house to await an ice-cream truck she had heard.

Even if police find the man in the composite and solve the attempted molestation case, cautioned Sgt. Earle Lloyd, a Mesa police spokesman, it may not be connected to Mikelle's disappearance.

The Christmas Day victim and her mother, however, remain convinced the same man is responsible, because both girls are 11 and the crimes occurred so close together.

"He seems to be preferring that age group," the girl's mother said Tuesday. "There were a lot of kids in that apartment complex. Why did they pick her?"
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject: FBI PROFILES MESA ABDUCTOR Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: By Jim Walsh
January 14, 1999

A bicycle and two quarters left on a residential street.

A suspected molester who tried to grab a child a mile away.

An ice cream truck that Mikelle Biggs, 11, heard but no one ever saw and police never found.

All these components of Mikelle's disappearance are included in an FBI profile turned over to Mesa police this week.

"They've given them a profile based on what they've seen so far," said Special Agent Ed Hall, an FBI spokesman in Phoenix. "Possibly, the profile could expand. This is not something written in concrete."

Although specific details were not released Wednesday, authorities say the profile includes such characteristics as age, sex, race, environment, sexual orientation and whether the suspect is likely a sex offender, as well as behavioral traits, including whether the suspect is violent. It was compiled by two profilers from the FBI Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit in Quantico, Va.

Detective Jose Martinez, a Mesa police spokesman, said investigators "seem pretty excited about at least having a direction."

Police are sifting through more than 4,000 leads, using an FBI computer software program to help put them in priority. Police detectives are working under the theory that Mikelle was abducted but still have no witnesses to the crime or any evidence to support their suspicions.

On Wednesday, Outdoor Systems donated space on 10 billboards scattered throughout metro Phoenix carrying Mikelle's picture and a phone number through which anyone knowing anything about her disappearance can pass along the information.

Four of the billboards are in Phoenix, three are in Mesa, one is in Gilbert and two are in Tempe.

Also on Wednesday, police excluded two possible leads, a pair of inmates in the Gila County Jail.

Globe authorities alerted Mesa police because the men resembled a composite drawing of a suspect in an attempted molestation on Christmas Day near the Biggs' neighborhood. Police believe the attempted molestation and Mikelle's disappearance may be related because of their proximity, but have not established a link.

The man in the attempted molestation is described as a tall, thin White male with bad teeth, a receding hairline, 30 to 40 years old, with light brown or blond hair. He wore a waist-length army coat, a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

Some reports put the molester with another transient or a woman, and still others say he was riding a blue mountain bicycle, police say.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:38 pm    Post subject: 'WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP' Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: Judi Villa
February 2, 1999

There have been prayer services and vigils, the release of home video clips, an appearance by her parents on a national talk show, even an auction to raise reward money.

All to keep alive the hope that someone somewhere knows where Mikelle Biggs is or knows what happened to the 11-year-old Mesa girl.

Mikelle has been in the spotlight almost every day since she disappeared, one month ago today, while waiting for an ice cream truck.

"Where to go from here? I don't know," said Mikelle's mother, Tracy. "It's just a matter of coming up with more things to do. We've done so much in such a short period of time that we've got to start racking our brains.

"We're not going to stop."

But to continue to keep the spotlight on Mikelle's case will be a challenge. Tips called in to police have diminished to a trickle of what they were in the beginning. The Mesa Police Department has run out of new information to release. The "Missing" fliers, posted on street corners and in store windows, are beginning to come down.

"We're certainly struggling at this point to keep it in the public eye, and it's becoming more and more difficult," said Kym Pasqualini, director of the Nation's Missing Children Organization in Phoenix. "We're asking people to make the commitment to keep the fliers up until she's found or there are answers.

"If it was their child, they'd want people to stay involved."

Since Mikelle disappeared Jan. 2, her case has garnered more publicity than any other missing child in the Valley's recent history. More than 100,000 fliers have papered the Valley. Large, full-color, vinyl magnets are on the sides of some cars. Billboards have gone up. There are Web sites dedicated solely to finding Mikelle.

"You can never give up on your child, so you can't quit hoping to find them," Tracy Biggs said. "We'll never give up hope of finding her. We'll never quit looking for her."

People still send cards, gifts and prayers to the Biggs family. They still volunteer to help with anything that comes up. Some call daily to offer whatever support they can.

But days go by, and other lives start to return to normal, and cases like Mikelle's get pushed to the backs of people's minds.

"Have they forgotten that Myron Traylor is still missing?" Pasqualini asked, referring to the 13-year-old Phoenix boy who disappeared in July 1988. "Unless we're reminded in our daily lives, then we go on. But the family sure doesn't."

Nick Orlando, a friend of the Biggs family, already sees children walking alone again to and from school in Mikelle's neighborhood.

"The reality is that we have short memories," Orlando said. "My hope, my dream is that everybody will remember this and keep it in their memories until she's found, but that's not going to happen."

How is it possible to keep Mikelle's name in the news and to keep people interested in her plight as the days stretch on? Will more fund-raisers keep the information trickling in? Or will people begin to say, "What? Again?"

Tracy Biggs believes that the public will continue to be galvanized by Mikelle's story and will continue to show its support when asked. More carwashes are in the works, and Tracy and her husband, Darien, hope to appear on more national talk shows. There is talk of a hot-air balloon event for Mikelle.

"As long as we can, we're going to keep trying," Tracy Biggs said. "I keep thinking this will be over before we run out of ideas.

"Basically, we just really want whoever has her to know that we want closure. Somehow, someway, we need to know where she's at."

Mikelle was waiting for an ice cream truck at El Moro Avenue and Toltec Street when she disappeared. Only a bike and two quarters were left behind. Police are working under the theory that Mikelle was abducted, but they have no evidence to prove it.

More than 4,000 tips have been called in to police. In the beginning, there were 25 an hour. Now police aren't getting that many in a whole day. Some days, there's only enough to keep 10 officers busy; at one point, about 100 worked the case.

Police have been door-to-door in Mikelle's neighborhood a couple of times. They've had two roadblocks. They've put out a composite of a suspected molester. They looked for - and eventually found and discounted - a copper-colored Jeep. They've brought out their head criminalist to talk about the role DNA plays in such an investigation.

There's been a DARE graduation at Mikelle's school. A $60,000 reward fund. A segment on America's Most Wanted. Last week, Mikelle's parents appeared on the Leeza show. And when new information slowed down, police released a home video of Mikelle.

"It's going to get to the point where a lot of the general public is going to start paying attention to other things," Mesa police Sgt. Earle Lloyd said. "We wanted to try and keep it in the public eye, but there comes a point where we run out of things to release. We, as a police department, are really at a loss."

The problem with Mikelle's case is that police don't really know what they're looking for. Nobody saw or heard anything when the girl disappeared. There's nothing really that the public can look for anymore.

But there's still more that Pasqualini can do.

She continues to distribute fliers throughout the country. She's trying to get local companies to include copies of the fliers with their mass mailings. She's looking for corporate sponsorships to put full-color vinyl posters on the sides of big-rig trucks.

As anniversaries accumulate and Mikelle's birthday comes in May, there will be public events to remind people. There might be a vigil where she disappeared or the release of balloons. Her name can be mentioned at services for other missing children. Her picture can be shown again at sporting events.

"We've done it all at this point, but we're not giving up," Pasqualini said. "We keep the hope that she's alive and she's out there and she will come home.

"We'll continue to support the family and to put her face out there until there is an answer."
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:40 pm    Post subject: MISSING CHILD'S BIRTHDAY MARKED Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: Jim Walsh
Monday, May 31, 1999

It's an annual affair for the Biggs family of Mesa: celebrate daughter Mikelle's birthday at the Golfland-Sunsplash water park.

"We went," said Mikelle's mother, Tracy Biggs, "but it really wasn't much fun for anyone."

It was empty, if anything.

Today Mikelle turns 12. Instead of a birthday fete, the Biggses will this week somberly mark the five-month anniversary of their daughter's mysterious disappearance.

Each passing day is hard, but Tracy Biggs says the birthday is especially so.

"Emotionally, I'm not talking to anybody. It's just way too hard," she said. "We're not sure what we're going to do for her birthday.

"I think we'll just do something as a family."

Kym Pasqualini, director of the Nation's Missing Children's Organization, said Tracy Biggs' emotions are not surprising.

"Christmas and birthdays and other specific dates are really painful for the families of missing children," she said. "I would hope somebody would come forward and provide them closure."

Mikelle disappeared shortly before 6 p.m. Jan. 2 at Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue as she waited for an ice-cream truck. She had been alone for only about two minutes.

Her little sister, Kimber, had gone home for dinner but Mikelle lingered, waiting for the ice-cream truck that no one else in the neighborhood reported hearing. Clutched in her hand were two quarters her mother had given her.

Faded yellow ribbons still hang from street signs, along with an occasional tattered flier, in Mikelle's middle-class neighborhood near Gilbert Road and Southern Avenue.

A bright little girl who wants to be a Disney animator, Mikelle was wearing a short-sleeved red "Lindbergh" T-shirt. She also wore bell-bottom blue jeans. Mikelle was an honor-roll student at nearby Lindbergh Elementary School.

Police found only Kimber's bicycle, which Mikelle had been riding, and the quarters she left behind.

Despite several hundred hours of investigation, police never found a witness. Two detectives and a sergeant still are pursuing the case under the theory that Mikelle was abducted, but have no evidence to back that conclusion.

"How can someone disappear off the face of the Earth like that? It's spooky, right in your own neighborhood," said Nick Orlando, a family friend who helped organize distribution of thousand of fliers.

No one knows if Mikelle is alive or dead, including her family.

Tracy Biggs has a running debate with herself on that issue, a debate with no answers.

"I'll never lose hope that she'll be found," Biggs said.

"If she's dead, I know she's with God. If she's alive, I pray she's safe. I don't want her to be alive and abused."

Orlando and other friends of the Biggs family find themselves in the same dilemma. "Part of me hopes she's not suffering and part of me hopes she's alive," he said. "How can I pray she's dead?"

Everyone realizes that statistically, the odds are overwhelming that Mikelle did not live to see her birthday today.

If Mikelle would suddenly reappear, her parents have a special gift for her.

While in California for the filming of an appearance on the Leeza show, an animator sympathetic to the family's plight drew a special picture of Mickey Mouse for Mikelle, Biggs said.

It was one of hundreds of kind acts from strangers touched by Mikelle's disappearance.

Now, "there's nothing other than keeping her fliers out, saying prayers, talking about her so nobody forgets," Biggs said.

Sgt. Earle Lloyd, a police spokesman, said detectives remain hopeful, despite the lack of concrete information.

"It's still a wide-open case," he said.

Police are still getting about five to 10 leads a week and continue to urge anyone with information to call (480) 644-2002.

In addition, there's a $60,000 reward fund available to anyone who provides the key tip to the Silent Witness Program, 1-800-TIPS.

"It's still an active case," Lloyd said. Photo Color photo Tracy Biggs / "We're not sure what we're going to do for her birthday. I think we'll just do something as a family." Mikelle Biggs / She hasn't been seen since she went for ice cream Jan. 2.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:41 pm    Post subject: HOPE ENDURES FOR MISSING GIRL Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: Christina Leonard
Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Authorities have interviewed 500 psychics, tracked every known ice cream vendor in the state and dug through 35 mine shafts in the Santan Mountains.

Seven thousand leads.

And Mesa police are still no closer to an arrest in the Mikelle Biggs case than they were the day last year when the 12-year-old vanished from her neighborhood.

On Monday, detectives spoke publicly about the case for the first time.

"There is no answer to this one yet," Sgt. Steve Stahl said. "There's no closure. There's no body. And obviously, there's no suspect yet."

But the two lead investigators and their sergeant say they won't give up until all leads are exhausted.

"I don't think we'll ever drop the case until it's solved, but there may be a time where we scale back," Stahl said.

Mikelle's Jan. 2 disappearance attracted worldwide attention and has since sent detectives chasing tips from Pennsylvania to Mexico.

The two lead detectives on the case - Butch Gates and Jerry Gissel - have worked for weeks straight, canceled their vacations and risked their lives for answers to the mystery: What happened to Mikelle Biggs?

Theories have run the gamut, from drug smugglers taking her to Mexico, to an ice cream truck hitting her, to a sexual predator snatching her from the street.

It has become an obsession.

"You just can't get it off your mind," Gissel said. "You see photos of her at the grocery store and think about what else you can do. It just totally consumes you."

"We'll feel like failures until we solve this thing," Gates added.

Although Darien Biggs, Mikelle's father, said he has been at odds with police at times, he is thankful they haven't given up.

"Of course, I expected the world," he said. "And that's almost what I've gotten. It seems like they'll go to the ends of the Earth if they get a lead, no matter how hokey it sounds."

Mikelle disappeared shortly before 6 p.m. on Jan. 2 at Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue as she waited for an ice-cream truck. She had been alone for only a few minutes.

Her little sister, Kimber, had gone home because she was cold, but Mikelle lingered, waiting for the ice cream truck that no one else in the middle-class neighborhood reported hearing. Clutched in her hand were two quarters her mother had given her.

Mikelle was last seen wearing bell-bottom jeans and a red shirt printed with the name of the school where she was an honor student, Lindbergh Elementary.

Police found only Kimber's bicycle, which Mikelle had been riding, and the quarters she left behind.

Since the news broke, leads have flooded the Police Department. Two people have spend countless hours prioritizing them and passing the most urgent ones along to the detectives, Stahl said.

Agencies across the Valley have helped in the investigation, and detectives throughout the Mesa department have stepped in or picked up extra cases the lead detectives couldn't handle.

A "missing juvenile" report hangs onto glass outside Room 239, which detectives call the Mikelle Biggs Room. Inside the cramped space sits a telephone, computer and thousands of pieces of paper. Maps hang on the wall, binders are stacked around the room.

"Every lead was looked into or is still being looked into," Stahl said. "Each lead takes on its whole new life.

"Just when you think you've whittled it down to maybe five viable areas where you can send five people . . . one of those leads mushrooms into an 80-person lead or something."

They've thought they've been close.

Shortly after the disappearance, police were monitoring Mikelle's personal Web page when a message for Darien Biggs came over.

The author claimed he had Mikelle, and he would exchange her at a certain time and location.

"The man-hours devoted to that one lead were astronomical," Stahl said. "It was almost like the Delta Force in scramble mode."

Investigators tracked the message to a Phoenix home, conducted airplane surveillance and sent out a SWAT team.

But the note was a prank sent by a 12-year-old boy.

Mikelle's family members say they've learned not to get too excited when a new lead comes in.

"It's happened a couple times," Tracy Biggs said. "They say, 'We think this one just might be it, but don't get your hopes up.'

"I haven't let myself get my hopes up on any of it. . . . If I did, it would just be an up-and-down roller-coaster ride."

Investigators have hypnotized people, used polygraph and voice-stress analyzers and even used FBI profilers. They've contacted sex offenders known to hang out at a nearby park, which Mikelle passed about an hour before she disappeared.

Investigators have spent days trooping through unstable caverns and mine shafts across the state, using sophisticated equipment to detect whether a body is in the pitch-black pools.

Many of the leads are bogus - those sent by revenge-seeking drug dealers trying to attract police attention and psychics who have visions as vague as "a green car next to the light pole," Gates said.

"Although there's no closing lead, they've gone above and beyond everyone's expectations," said Kym Pasqualini, director of the Nation's Missing Children's Organization.

Tracy Biggs said she misses the little things about her daughter - reading Christmas stories every night in December, playing 21 questions at the dinner table, getting an unexpected hug while washing dishes.

And although she tries to focus on the positive, "it gets frustrating, depressing."

"Sometimes I get so full of anger I want to put my fist through the wall," she said.

The hardest part, she said, is not knowing whether her little girl is dead or alive.

"Whether she's found alive or not, we just want to have her found," Biggs said. "We need some closure just so we know.

"But there's no way you can give up hoping that she's alive and well."
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:42 pm    Post subject: DNA TESTED IN MISSING-GIRL CASE Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Written by: Jim Walsh
January 23, 1999

When a Jeep owner told Mesa police he had nothing to do with the disappearance of Mikelle Biggs, they didn't automatically take his word for it.

Investigators collected hairs and other fibers from the man's vehicle and compared them to DNA material culled from Mikelle's belongings before they eliminated him as a suspect this week.

As the mysterious disappearance of the 11-year-old Mesa girl heads toward the fourth week without a break - and tips slow to a trickle - authorities are resorting more to ruling out leads than zeroing in on potential suspects. And they are using DNA testing for much of that process of elimination.

"We currently have a DNA profile of Mikelle. We are comparing that evidence to other evidence found at the (potential) scenes," said Joyce Lee, supervisory criminalist of the Mesa Police crime lab, on Friday.

Police won't say how they put together Mikelle's DNA profile, but said DNA can be obtained from personal items such as clothing or a hair brush.

Among the items examined was the bicycle that Mikelle borrowed from her younger sister the evening of Jan. 2, when she vanished as she waited by her house for an ice cream truck. Her own bike had a flat tire.

The DNA profile also could figure prominently in a worst-case scenario, which police and others fear is probable. Authorities say there is a 95 percent chance a missing child is dead if not found after 72 hours.

Mikelle's DNA could be used to identify and help convict a suspect, Lee said. Or should Mikelle be killed and her body found, DNA material of the suspect could be collected at the crime scene and be compared to a nationwide databank for identification purposes, Lee added.

Police say they hope the girl's disappearance will persuade parents to have their children fingerprinted, as well as to take plenty of photos, make lots of videotapes and save hair samples for potential DNA testing.

"Identification of our children is very important," said Detective Jose Martinez, a police spokesman.

Martinez said 50 detectives remain on the case, aided by three Mesa criminalists and two lab technicians. About two-thirds of about 5,000 tips have been eliminated or ruled overly vague.

The Jeep and its driver had been one of investigators' most promising leads. Witnesses described seeing a copper-colored Jeep with a white top around the time Mikelle vanished.

Authorities found the owner of the brown Jeep - police say the lighting may have led witnesses to think it was copper-colored - Tuesday night when they re-canvassed Mikelle's neighborhood near Southern Avenue and Gilbert Road. Police cleared the man Thursday.

Police have also assigned a victim's assistance counselor to the Biggs family on a daily basis. Part of the counselor's job is to prepare the family for bad news, Martinez said.

Michael Darien Biggs, the girl's father, has said family members are "hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

As are investigators.

"We're going to find Mikelle Biggs. We know that," Martinez said.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:45 pm    Post subject: HUNT FOR GIRL BIGGEST CASE EVER IN MESA Reply with quote


The Arizona Republic
Byline: By Christina Leonard
May 16, 2000

Mesa police have spent more on the search for 12-year-old Mikelle Biggs than on any other case in the department's history.

Overtime costs alone have totaled more than $45,000 for the four main officers who have been working on the case since the little girl vanished in January 1999 while waiting for an ice cream truck.

Manpower was by far the greatest expense in the search, which has also used lab tests, helicopters and video cameras to track down more than 7,500 leads.

Still, police are no closer to an arrest than the day the missing persons investigation began.

''This is the first of its kind in the city of Mesa, where a kid was abducted off the streets and hasn't been found,'' Sgt. Earle Lloyd said. ''None has lasted this long.

''People say, 'We can't believe how much money you all spend on the case,' but what if it was your daughter?''

The Biggs search and this year's grisly torso murder case have helped put Mesa police $1.5 million over its overtime budget for the fiscal year, and officers were ordered last week to cut back on unnecessary hours.

Because time is so important in a missing persons case, departments initially throw huge amounts of manpower at each investigation to chase leads.

''They look into those as quickly as possible because they don't want those to get old,'' Phoenix police Sgt. Jeff Halstead said.

''There's never a point when we look and say, 'There's a lot of people here, we need to scale back' because their whole focus is, 'Where is the child?' ''

Mesa police could not provide a total spent on the case, but did provide overtime slips for the two main detectives, a sergeant and a public information officer.

Detective Butch Gates, the lead detective, has earned more than $21,800 in overtime from January 1999 to April 2000.

The two lead detectives have chased tips from Pennsylvania to Mexico. They've worked for weeks straight, canceled vacations and risked their lives in unstable mine shafts to look for answers. Scores of other officers have been brought in at times.

''Each investigation takes on its own unique twist,'' Sgt. Steve Stahl said. ''Ours happened to be huge manpower.''

Stahl cited the Tempe investigation into Cookie Jacobson's death. Police spent $300,000 searching a landfill for the homemaker's body.

In the Biggs case, the community has cut costs tremendously with donations of about 600,000 fliers in the first two weeks of the investigation, and free use of cell phones. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office even loaned equipment for searches of remote mountain mine shafts.

''Mikelle Biggs is the largest effort I have ever seen in Arizona,'' said Kym Pasqualini, head of the Nation's Missing Children's Organization.

Her group alone has spent more than $40,000 on fliers, rewards and events.

Mikelle's family has worked non-stop to keep her case on everybody's minds.

''We've worried a few times that at one point, it would become a dollars and cents issue,'' said Mikelle's father, Darien Biggs.

But he was reassured in December, when Mesa Chief Jan Strauss promised them that detectives will never stop working until all leads are exhausted.

However, Biggs said he's had problems getting weekly updates from police, and he's been especially concerned that Gates also has been working on the high-profile case of Valerie Pape, who is accused to killing her husband and dumping his torso in a trash bin.

''My daughter's case should still take precedence.''

Stahl said police are still investigating every tip, even though most now come from psychics and drug addicts.

Biggs said he doesn't care about the cost.

''I appreciate the effort, time . . . and everything,'' Biggs said. ''But guess what? It's not over with yet.''
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:46 pm    Post subject: Girl has never returned from trip for ice cream Reply with quote

Girl has never returned from trip for ice cream

The Arizona Republic
Byline: By Charles Kelly
May 24, 2002

Eleven-year-old Mikelle Biggs heard the chimes from an ice cream truck about 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, 1999. She borrowed two quarters from her mother, got on her sister's bicycle, and headed away from her home at El Moro Avenue and Toltec Street in Mesa. Other children went with her, but they wearied of waiting and returned. Mikelle vanished. The only traces of her left behind were the bicycle and two quarters in the street.

Her disappearance triggered the most expensive hunt ever for the Mesa Police Department. Investigators interviewed dozens of psychics, peered into or scrambled down 35 mine shafts in the Santan Mountains, traced every known ice cream vendor in the state. Hundreds of thousands of fliers were handed out. Lab tests, helicopters and video cameras were employed.

The two lead detectives followed up tips from Pennsylvania to Mexico. They and other investigators kicked around wildly differing theories. Perhaps drug smugglers had spirited Mikelle off to Mexico. Perhaps an ice cream truck had crashed into her and her body was taken away and hidden. Perhaps a sex predator had plucked her from the street.

Over the last three years, Mesa police have checked out more than 9,500 leads in the case and filled more than 70 binders 4 inches thick with tips. It has been hard, slogging work, but Jerry Gissel, currently the lead detective on the disappearance, says he's hopeful that leads they are now working will lead to a break in the case.

Investigators continue to scan old files for lines of investigation they need to follow more fully, or people they should re-interview. And Gissel says tips continue to flow as public awareness remains high.

Mikelle's mother, Tracy, says she and her family still hope for closure in some form. She is encouraged that people still remember.

"Everywhere I go, I get people that will stop me and say, 'Have they come up with anything? We're thinking about you,' " Tracy says.

"I know it's still very much in the public's mind."

If you have information that would help solve this case, call Mesa Police Detective Jerry Gissel on the Mikelle Biggs Hotline: (480) 644-4940.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:14 pm    Post subject: Funeral for Mikelle Biggs Reply with quote

Funeral for Mikelle Biggs


On Friday, January 2nd, 2004, the Mesa, AZ family of Mikelle Biggs had a funeral service in her honor on her 5th annual date of disappearance. This ceremony was not meant to close the door on Mikelle's unsolved disappearance, but rather it was to bring a sense of closure to her family's life that deals with her being gone every single day. Mikelle, only 11 when she disappeared, was waiting for an ice cream truck just down the street from her house. That was the last that her family has seen of her. While thousands of volunteers spent time searching for Mikelle, little has come to light about what happened that day. While their daughter's case is still an active investigation at the Mesa Police Department, Mikelle's family believe they know what happened to her.

A local man serving 160 years for other non-related sex crimes is being accused of being involved in Mikelle's disappearance. The family has corresponded with this individual and believes that Mikelle is in her permanent resting place. "I will never give up on her," said Darien Biggs, Mikelle's father. "But I need to be able to devote some time and energy to my family and to life," he continued. Mikelle has two younger sisters and a younger brother at home. They all miss her very much but feel that having a funeral for Mikelle will help the family move forward in a positive healing direction.

The service included a small white and gold casket surrounded by purple flowers, Mikelle's favorite color. While the long funeral procession followed the casket to the cemetery in Mesa after the service, her family says that it will not be buried. The plot, Mikelle's family says, is for both of her parents. They will be including Mikelle's name on their own headstone but for now, the plot remains open since Mikelle is still missing. Her family, friends and loved ones portrayed the young, thin, blonde as outgoing, artistic, and talented at whatever she tried. They said it is always the way they will remember her.
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