Details of Disappearance
Ilene was walking home in Dublin, California on January 30, 1989 at 3:00 p.m., after her classes concluded at Wells Intermediate School. Several classmates reported seeing Ilene walking alone on Amador Valley Boulevard near Village Parkway and the Shamrock Shopping Center in the afternoon; she vanished shortly afterwards. She was taking a shortcut home, going through a wide alley behind a shopping center, a furniture store called the Sawmill, and Gallagher's Pub, then across the boulevard and through John Mape Park along a dry creek bed.
Ilene has never been seen again. She was carrying a dark blue backpack at the time of her disappearance. The backpack was later found abandoned in the creek bed in John Mape Park near where she was last seen. It was located after the area had already been searched; authorities believe someone may have placed it there after Ilene's disappearance.
Authorities announced that Timothy Bindner had a possible connection to Ilene's case, as well as the disappearances of Michaela Garecht
, Tara Cossey
and Amanda "Nikki" Campbell
. A photo of Bindner is posted with this case summary. He maintains his innocence and successfully sued Amanda's hometown of Fairfield, California in 1997 for defamation of character.
Bindner, a married sewage treatment plant worker, came to authorities' attention after he began sending birthday greetings to young girls in the East Bay area. One child's parents contacted authorities and handed over a letter Bindner had written to their daughter. The note was printed backwards and could only be deciphered by holding it up to a mirror. Bindner claimed he sent the cards as a kind gesture because the girls were "lonely."
Bindner also visited the Oakmont Cemetery gravesite of Angela Bugay, a five-year-old girl girl who was abducted and murdered in Antioch, California in 1983. A photograph of Bugay is posted with this case summary. Bindner was never considered a suspect in her murder and another man has since been arrested in that case.
For many years Bindner was also considered a suspect in the June 1988 disappearance of Amber Swartz-Garcia
from Pinole, California. Bindner approached many of the mothers of missing girls from the East Bay area offering his assistance, including Amber and Michaela's families. He introduced himself to Amber's three days after Amber vanished.
Investigators asked her to maintain a quasi-friendship with Bindner in hope of learning if he was connected to any of the girls' cases. She and authorities agreed that Bindner appeared to playing mind games with victims' loved ones and law enforcement. Many people theorize that he enjoyed taunting families into thinking that he may have been involved in the presumed abductions. He was once arrested for annoying two little girls whom he was trying to lure into his van, but the charges were later dropped.
Bindner often drove around in a light blue Dodge van with a license plate that said "Lov You." Inside the van was wallpapered with many pictures of children. A photograph of the van is posted with this case summary.
Bindner refers to himself as a "good Samaritan." He asked Linda Golston, a reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, to interview him at Oakmont Cemetery at 4:30 a.m. He played his favorite song on her car stereo, "Jesus, Here's Another Child To Hold." Bindner told Goldston that he thought of the missing girls as "his children." She asked him how he believed the abductions occurred and he said one child was submissive, but another fought back against her assailant. Bindner added that he was "guessing" about the girls' reactions.
Bindner wrote a letter to a law enforcement agency in the late 1980s, stating that he believed the next girl who would be abducted from the area would be about nine years old. Michaela disappeared shortly thereafter; she was nine at the time of her abduction. Bindner also sent a holiday card to a profiler for the FBI in 1990. The card depicted an image of a young girl holding up four fingers. Amanda vanished in 1991 at the age of four.
Search dogs traced Amanda and Amber's scent to Bugay's grave. Authorities never had enough evidence to prove Bindner was connected to their cases, although he was known for visiting the cemetery on occasion. Bindner was given a heroism award by the California State Patrol after assisting victims in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. He has never been charged in connection with any of the cases.
James Daveggio has been considered as a possible suspect as well. He and his former girlfriend, Michelle Lyn Michaud, were charged with the 1997 abduction, rape and murder of Vanessa Lei Sampson. Photos of Daveggio and Michaud are posted with this case summary. They were also charged with additional counts of sexual assault in unrelated cases in the mid-1990s. In 2002, Michaud and Daveggio were convicted of Sampson's murder and sentenced to death. They are awaiting execution.
Curtis Dean Anderson, who was convicted of the 2000 kidnapping and molestation of a young California girl, was also mentioned as a possible suspect in Ilene's case. Investigators searched Anderson's mother's residence in June 2001 for evidence linking him to other missing girls' cases, but nothing was located. In 2009, however, they announced that Anderson had confessed to Amber's murder a month before he died in prison in 2007, and they were closing her case and ending the search for her. Police spent eighteen months investigating his statement and couldn't find any evidence to refute it. He is also considered a suspect in the 1999 disappearance of Karla Rodriguez
Daveggio is also considered a possible suspect in Michaela's disappearance. Neither he nor Michaud has been charged in connection with any of the cases. Ilene remains missing and her case is unsolved. She was a good student and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, and she was an accomplished figure skater who won medals locally.