Murch has run down tips of her own, following a lead through Russia into the United Arab Emirates. On her blog, www.dearmichaela.com, she's written messages in Arabic and Russian, just in case her child was spirited to either country long ago.
She has good days and bad days. Her daughter's absence never leaves her. "It's always there. It's a big hole in the center of my life. It's impossible to get away from it. If Michaela is out there, if she is alive, she needs me to look for her."
Murch says that her heart has been shredded so many times in the last 25 years, she doesn't know if her child is alive or not. She doesn't know if Michaela is unwilling to return, long brainwashed by a captor. But it's better for her, she says, to believe that she will hold Michaela again someday.
She returns to her thoughts on hope. It's what she's written about in her latest entry on her blog, and it's why she wrote this to Michaela: "What I can't put in a photograph and paste in a blog is my heart, Michaela. My heart is always waiting for you. Your destiny is greater than the horrors that have been thrust on you. Have faith, my sweet girl, in yourself and the love that surrounds you and the light that leads you home. Have faith. Have courage. Come home."
17 months, and still hopeful
It was the Sunday before Christmas -- December 18, 2011. Phoenix Coldon attended church as part of a family whose faith is at the forefront of every decision they make. And she shot a few hoops in the yard.
It was unseasonably warm in St. Louis, and as Goldia Coldon watched her daughter play basketball, she thought Phoenix looked like she was still 12.
"Where has the time gone?" Coldon wondered. Phoenix was 23, and earlier in the year had moved back home while she finished college.
Coldon looked forward to decorating the Christmas tree with Phoenix later in the day. Her daughter was much better at it. It was an artificial tree with lights -- nothing too fancy. Phoenix loved to rip open presents on Christmas morning and chided her mom for buying expensive wrapping paper. So Coldon began using newspaper for some of the gifts. She always took care to hide one small gift among the tree branches so Phoenix would have to search it out.
On that Sunday afternoon, Phoenix climbed into her 1998 Chevy Blazer. The windows were tinted, so her mother could see only a silhouette. She knew her daughter often sat in her truck and talked on her cell phone.
About 3 p.m., Phoenix's father saw her pull out of the driveway. He thought she was going to the convenience store around the corner or maybe to a friend's house.
But Phoenix never returned.
By midnight, the Coldons knew something was wrong. It was not like Phoenix to leave and not say anything to her parents.
The couple spent the next day on the phone with friends, family -- and hospitals. When no clues surfaced, they called police.
Phoenix's Blazer turned up at a tow yard in East St. Louis, Illinois, on January 2. It had been found stopped on a street, with the motor running. Her purse was still in the car; designer eyeglasses sat on the console.
In the first few days, Lawrence would say: "Well, I think Phoenix left here to meet someone and something happened."
"Are you saying Phoenix is dead?" Goldia would ask.
"No, I'm not saying that."
Goldia used to say things like: "Phoenix is not gone." Or, "The Lord has not taken her back."
Now, after all this time, she can finally say the word: "dead."
"Phoenix Lucille Coldon is not dead," she says defiantly.
Lucille is Goldia's middle name. It was her mother's, too. Goldia thought it was appropriate that Phoenix started walking on April 26, 1989, the day Lucille Ball died. Later, Phoenix watched "I Love Lucy" and carried a Lucille Ball lunchbox.
Phoenix was home-schooled and learned to play piano. She had started taking violin lessons from a friend who was second seat with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. She owned three guitars.
She fenced -- foil. And had a 3.667 GPA at the end of her first year at Missouri Baptist University.
It was only after Phoenix disappeared that the Coldons discovered she had lived with a man in an apartment the Coldons paid for. All along, they'd believed Phoenix was living with a girlfriend. They also discovered that she had dropped her classes at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and was no longer enrolled there.