The heartbreaking case of Mikelle Biggs, an 11-year-old Mesa girl who disappeared more than 10 years ago, returns to the national spotlight Friday.
ABC News’ “20/20,” a newsmagazine show, will delve into the unsolved case as part of a series of shows featuring people who have disappeared.
Darien Biggs, Mikelle’s father, remains convinced that a sex offender sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for the brutal rape of a neighbor is responsible for his daughter’s murder.
While suspicion has focused on the convicted rapist, Mesa police consider Mikelle’s disappearance an open case and have never named a suspect. They say there isn’t enough evidence to charge anyone.
Mikelle disappeared about 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, 1999, at Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue in central Mesa. Mikelle had heard an ice cream truck and ran out to meet it. Her sister, Kimber, went home to get a jacket. Tracy Biggs, their mother, sent Kimber back to tell Mikelle to come home.
Only 90 seconds passed, but Mikelle already was gone, less than a block from the family’s house.
Mikelle’s body never was found. No one apparently witnessed what police still believe was an abduction. Police found Mikelle’s bicycle and two quarters she planned to use to buy the ice cream.
Elizabeth Vargas, an award-winning reporter who worked in Phoenix early in her career for KTVK (Channel 3) from 1986-1989, interviews the Biggs family as part of the show.
“It’s such a heartbreaking case,” Vargas said. “Within two minutes, she vanishes into thin air.”
Vargas said she has worked on profiles of 10 to 15 cases where people have vanished; some eventually were solved and others remain unsolved.
“I think the thing we have found repeatedly in these shows is that not knowing is the worst,” she said.
Darien Biggs called the “20/20″ interview another in a series of attempts to finally find out what happened to Mikelle after more than a decade.
“I won’t be a whole person again until we know for sure,” Biggs said. “I think there has to be more than one person in the world who knows what happened. It’s so hard to keep a secret.”
His hope is that the “20/20″ profile will jog memories and generate more tips for police, perhaps from someone who once lived in Mesa but has moved out of state.
“I just hope that someone will say something. You never know,” he said.