On an afternoon in January 1999, 11-year-old Mikelle Biggs was riding her bike in Mesa, Arizona, waiting for the ice cream truck to arrive.
Mikelle and her younger sister Kimber had been playing outside. Soon Kimber started walking home to talk to their mom, while Mikelle stayed outside on her bike.
But just 90 seconds later, everything would change. Mikelle was suddenly nowhere to be found, her bike abandoned on the road and her ice cream money thrown on the ground.
Within 30 minutes, Mesa police began circling the area by helicopter, using a loudspeaker to announce the search for the child. But somehow, she had vanished.
Nearly 20 years later, Mikelle’s case is still the “most intense investigation in the Mesa Police Department’s history,” bringing in over 800 pieces of evidence and nearly 10,0000 tips.
Case evidence includes “nearly 500 interviews with psychics and searches of 35 abandoned mine shafts in the San Tan Mountains.”
In a 2009 interview, lead case detective Jerry Gissel revealed his belief that the 11-year-old was kidnapped and had been running away from someone she didn’t know.
“It wasn’t somebody that she knew or wanted to be with,” he said. “She dropped the bike, she was running toward home, she dropped quarters, and it was swift. And somebody grabbed her and, I believe, abducted her in a car and drove away with her.”
At the time, her face became extremely well known; you couldn’t pass a street sign or post without seeing her smile on a missing flier.
Tips came in, including leads to local businesses that led to drawn out searches of their buildings, only to find they were hoaxes all along.
One tip came via email claiming the sender had kidnapped Mikelle. When a SWAT team surrounded the Phoenix home the email was traced to, they discovered the sender was just a 12-year-old kid “messing around on the internet.”
Eventually, all other supposed clues led to dead ends.
But on March 14, 2018, a new tip was reported in the form of a note on a dollar bill.
The 2009 bill was found in Neenah, Wisconsin, with a message scrawled on the edge of the bill. The writing reads “My name is Mikel (sic) Biggs kidnapped From Mesa AZ I’m Alive.”
The handwriting on the dollar appears to be a child’s handwriting and the “‘s’ in ‘is’ almost sits on its side while the ‘kel’ in the name is written in cursive.”
Neenah Police Investigator Adam Streubel questions the authenticity of the note, explaining that Mikelle’s name is spelled incorrectly, and it may just be “a senseless joke.”
Investigators have said there is no way to know how the bill wound up in Neenah, and with “no way to trace it,” it’s most likely back to square one.
“There was a little spring of hope for a second, and then reality set in,” Streubel said. “There is nothing you can do with it, which is rather frustrating.”
But Mesa police spokesperson Detective Steve Berry said detectives aren’t discounting “the investigative value” of the note and are looking into the new evidence.
“We don’t get a lot of tips any more, but we occasionally do,” Berry said. “We always follow up on it. We always hope that might be the one that breaks the case.”
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