On Special Assignment

Nov 9, 2012 8:38 AM by Jill Valley - KPAX TV

St. Ignatius girl's disappearance still a mystery

ST. IGNATIUS - On a cold spring day some 30 years ago, a little girl vanished while playing in the front yard of her home in St. Ignatius. The two-year-old was there one second, gone the next.

"Those who have small children on the road here are very aware that this little girl disappeared, and never was found. Nothing about it was ever found," resident Gate Boot said.

Megan vanished in 1980 and her picture, which still is on the missing children's websites, shows what she might look like today.

Old newspaper clippings describe the desperate search in the timbered foothills of the Mission Mountains. Boot worked for the local Lake County Leader back then.

"This encompassed all the news. Everything that was going on was for this search for the little girl," she recalled.

Her name is Megan Ginevicz. She and her mom and brother just moved to the Mission Valley, in a house up Cold Creek, and what happened next, became a cold case.

"My son came up the stairs and said Megan's crying," Megan's mom, Dona Smith recalled.

Smith was 24 back then. She was sweeping the kitchen floor just after lunch while her children played right outside, clearly visible through a big picture window.

She was sweeping, one eye on the broom, the other on the kids. She looked away for no more than 30 seconds. And that was all it took.

"I had just seen her...just before, just that last little bit. She was outside in front of the windows, and then she was gone," Smith recalled.

Search and rescue teams got to the home around six o'clock, but were fighting fading daylight, and then it started to rain and then it started to snow.

"The creek went from being a narrow stream to being a raging river, down through that area," Lake County Undersheriff Dan Yonkin explained.

He believes Megan probably fell in the creek and was swept downstream. Some locals believe that an animal quietly took her.

"Mountain lions are very stealthy. I've seen them take down dogs and deer, you don't know they are there," CSKT Fish and Game's Pablo Espinoza said.

"I remember standing arm to arm with people in a big giant line and walking through the woods, checking everything," he recalled.

Espinoza remembers the frustration of the search, hundreds of people looking for days, looking everywhere and finding nothing. There was no clothing, no blood. no tracks, not even a barrette.

Yonkin told us he understands why Megan's mom believes her daughter was kidnapped.

"There's no sock, no shoe, how could there not be some trace, why didn't the dogs get it? The cat won't eat her clothing?," he asked.

Her disappearance is classified as a :non family member abduction," and Smith says her daughter might not know she's missing.

Just this fall, a woman from Las Vegas, submitted a DNA sample to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, thinking she might be Megan.

But, it was another dead-end in a case that's still alive.
"We have not closed the book on this case, until we know what happened to Megan, this case will remain open," Yonkin concluded.

Smith says it's still a painful chapter in her life, and she encourages anyone who cannot find their birth parents to register their DNA with the Centers for Missing and Exploited Children.

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