Vanished in 90 seconds
by Robert A. Waters
Twelve years ago, a young girl vanished into thin air. On January 2, 1999, shortly before 6 p.m., Mikelle Biggs, 11, pedaled her bicycle to the corner of Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue. This was only four houses down from her suburban home in Mesa, Arizona. She and Kimber, her sister, thought they heard the calliope-style music from an ice cream truck so they hit their mother up for money and raced down to the corner to wait. After a few minutes, Kimber got cold and walked back home while Mikelle stayed behind. Tracy Biggs, the girls’ mother, told Kimber to go back and tell Mikelle to come home.
All Kimber found was Mikelle’s bicycle lying on the side of the road. It wasn’t on the corner but looked as if it were headed in the direction of her home. The front wheel was still spinning. Police later discovered two quarters, the exact amount given to Mikelle by her mother, in a nearby yard.
Kimber had been inside her house for all of ninety seconds before going back out to deliver her mother’s orders.
No one has seen Mikelle since.
Unlike many cases, police immediately recognized that this was likely an abduction. They quickly mobilized and began what would become the largest search in Arizona history. Cops methodically searched all the homes in the neighborhood except one (a nearby resident refused to let cops search his house, but he was later ruled out as a suspect). Investigators set up roadblocks to stop and question people who regularly drove through the neighborhood. Cops and volunteers scoured miles of nearby fields and dug through dozens of old mine shafts. Numerous suspects, including dozens of sex offenders who lived in the area, were questioned.
Hundreds of thousands of flyers were mailed out by Mikelle’s parents and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The case was profiled on “America’s Most Wanted.” Mother Tracy and father Darien Biggs appeared on several national television shows to plead for their daughter’s return.
Investigators followed up on 10,000 leads, but never came up with a viable suspect. They learned that there was no ice cream truck in the area that day. Although the children had thought they heard the distinctive music from the good humor man, they were mistaken.
Mikelle was an honor student who loved art and playing the clarinet. An article in the Arizona Republic described her as “outgoing and creative. 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.”
What happened to Mikelle?
The kidnapping was obviously a crime of opportunity, and one in which the abductor got lucky. On the street of a suburban neighborhood, it would have been almost impossible to commit such an act without being seen. Yet it did happen.
Either Mikelle was taken by a neighbor or someone driving by. Knowing this, police spent hours searching nearby residences. No clues were found.
One suspect was Dee Blalock. A sex offender in three states, he lived two blocks from where Mikelle was kidnapped. But his wife gave him an alibi, telling investigators that Blalock had been in their garage all night. His name came up again two years later when he broke into a neighbor’s home and beat her nearly to death as he raped her. He was convicted of that offense and given 187 years in prison.
Tracy and Darien still consider Blalock the best suspect so far. They even visited him in prison and asked him if he abducted Mikelle. Blalock denied it, but it didn’t convince the couple.
Blalock (or someone else) could have been driving through the neighborhood and seen Mikelle standing alone or riding her bicycle. Impulsively, he could have stopped and snatched her, then driven home and hid the girl until heat died down.
Whatever happened, the disappearance of Mikelle Biggs has stumped investigators for more than a decade.