Break in Patz brings hope, tears to other families

By Allen G. Breed

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

"And on the daily hope that we're getting her back," she says.

Ilene was 13 when she disappeared on her way home from Wells Middle School to change into her figure-skating clothes. She had recently competed in her first regional meet, and her family had gotten permission for her to leave while everyone else was in last period.

That morning, Ilene was brushing her hair in the bathroom as Maddi Misheloff walked by on her way out the door to her office job at a physical therapy and medical supply company. The two exchanged a quick "I love you."

Mike Misheloff, an engineer at a Silicon Valley semiconductor company, was driving Ilene and her twin brother, Brian, the mile or so to school. They were running late, and the kids bolted from the car as soon as their father pulled up at the school.

Ilene, a pretty girl with braces and curly brown hair, was wearing a charcoal gray pullover polo sweater, a horizontally striped pink and charcoal skirt, and black, low-top Keds sneakers. She was carrying a dark-blue backpack.

After school, she usually had a snack while she waited for her coach to come pick her up. But she never got home that day.

The couple have been in contact with police off and on since Ilene's disappearance. But they haven't heard anything since the beginning of the year, when the lead investigator was promoted and a new detective took his place.

Both parents have been following the Patz case. But a more recent event brought the emotions flooding back.

In the last few days, a Central Valley man was arrested in the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl. Although no body has been found, police say there is enough evidence to suspect a homicide, Mike Misheloff says.

"We want to know where our child is," his wife says. "Every day without her is torture, and we want her back."

When Judy Moore heard that the Patzes second-guess their decision to let Etan walk to the bus stop alone that day, she wept.

"You're reading my mind," she says, the tears coming afresh. "It's pitiful."

Moore, 55, had lost one prematurely born baby at 5 weeks. A judge had given custody of her two older children to her parents because her epilepsy made it difficult for her to care for them, she says.

Kelly, her baby, was all she had left.

Moore and Kelly's father, Bobby Hollan, were divorced. On Feb. 12, 1982, mother and her son were living with Moore's boyfriend in a rented house halfway up Pine Tree Hollow, near the town of Hindman in the eastern Kentucky mountains.

There was a dusting of snow on the ground. Kelly — a blue-eyed boy with a scar on his upper lip from an operation to repair a birth defect — had the day off from kindergarten and was begging to go outside and play.

After about two hours, Moore says, she relented. He pulled on his brown boots and the blue wind breaker with the torn zipper and headed for the door.

"He hugged me and said, 'Mom, I love you,'" she says, her voice breaking.

It was around 11:30 a.m.

She sat on the bed and watched him out the window for a while. A couple of hours later, a neighbor yelled down to say that Moore's sister was on the telephone.

When she came back home from the call, she says, Kelly was gone.

Moore assumed he was up the road at his friend Gordon's house, where they watched "The Dukes of Hazzard" together. She went to the kitchen to fix dinner — soup beans and cornbread.

When Kelly didn't come home for supper, she went up and down the hollow looking for him. It started snowing again.

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