The story of a father desperately searching for answers when his daughter goes missing.
[Voiceover] Due to the intense subject matter, we advise parents to view this film first, and then decide whether to share it with children.
[Reporter] Police are looking for any evidence that can help solve the mystery of what happened to thirty-one-year-old Michaela Diemer.
[Reporter] …here to follow breaking developments on the Cleveland west side.
[Reporter] …first exclusive, all new at six, Kristin Volk is here to share the emotional ride Michaela’s family is now on.
[Reporter] She was last seen near the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
[Reporter] Thirty-one-year-old Michaela Diemer hasn’t been seen since August 20th.
[Andy Diemer] Michaela’s birth was one of the happiest moments of my life. As a little girl, she would shower me with little girl kisses and send me little cards and greetings and one time, she drew a picture of the factory I worked in and instead of the dirty factory building, it had flowers in the windows and curtains and it was much different in her mind, because that just came out of her heart, those types of—that expression.
[Voiceover] Michaela’s teen years were difficult for her. With the breakup of her parents, her father was left to raise Michaela and her brothers on his own. During this time, she began to turn to alcohol. Michaela however was able to study nursing and graduated second in her class. Her career in nursing gave her the opportunity to help others.
[Andy] The people at the nursing home truly loved her. In fact, the residents’ families would tell me when I visited it sometimes how much they appreciated Michaela taking care of their loved ones. She had such a heart for giving and the gift from God that she had to care for people.
[Voiceover] Michaela moved to San Diego and continued nursing and volunteering in the community. Unfortunately, drinking began to affect all aspects of her life. The DUIs added up and she lost her nursing license. In time, Michaela hit rock bottom and moved back to Cleveland.
[Andy] She came back to the Cleveland area where we live and I began to immediately get involved with her again, to help her get on her feet. And she did not ask me to come here, because she probably knew I would say, “You need to fix your life. You need to fix yourself. You cannot stay here and go out and party and then come home. You can’t do that.” So she went to a homeless shelter. And that was very difficult for me. I hugged her goodbye, and that evening, actually not very long after that, I think it was even before I arrived home, she sent me a text and told me that she was going to make me proud.
[Voiceover] At the homeless shelter, Michaela met others who were trying to put their lives back together. She found work through a temporary staffing agency. Her father was hopeful this would be the first of many steps to get her life back on track.
[Andy] She and I were maintaining contact with texts. She was telling me that she was going to go get her resume made up. She was telling me, essentially, that she was trying to restart her life. I texted her back that “That’s good! Happy that you’re trying.” Just was positive back to her. We always had a lot of X’s and O’s in our text messages—hugs and kisses.
[Voiceover] Though optimistic, Andy was still deeply concerned for his daughter.
[Andy] I keep a diary of my prayers, and I wrote about that experience.
“Many of my thoughts today are on my daughter. She is staying at a homeless shelter, or so it appears, and has worked a few hours in the last several days. Her job is to pick up trash at Progressive Field after the Indians games. She informs me that a bus transports her and other homeless from the shelter to the field. How could this nightmare get any worse, O God? I pity my poor daughter, but I can hardly help her if alcohol is more important to her than being cleaned up of her addiction. Father, I know You hear my prayers for her. Please watch over my dear one and draw her to You.”
That was my prayer that day for her. And all of a sudden, nothing. No word from her, nothing.
[Voicemail message] Hi, you’ve reached my voicemail. Leave me a message and I’ll call you back.
[Andy] I started to look. Nobody had seen her. Well, I continued to pray during that time as the realization dawned on all of us that something seriously wrong had happened—something seriously terrible had happened. And as that realization began to dawn on me, I went to my strength; I went to God on my knees and in my thoughts. I went to God to get through that. And the morning that she went missing, I wrote in my diary these words:
“This morning, my thoughts go again to where they have often gone of late. I’m thinking of my daughter. I do not know where she is at the moment, but I pray, O Lord, that You are watching over her. Please reach her heart today, so that she may turn to You and live.”
[Voiceover] After four long days of silence, Andy reported his daughter missing to the police. He called her friends, drove the streets, and continued searching for his daughter. After two weeks, Michaela’s cousin spotted her car, but Michaela wasn’t driving it. Her cousin followed the car to the gas station. The driver filled up the car, went in, paid, and then drove off. Finally, a break. The surveillance camera from the gas station could help police identify the man driving Michaela’s car. Police viewed the video tapes. After another week and a half, they came up empty. No man, no car. Andy was a determined father. He went to the gas station and asked to review the tapes himself. While reviewing the tapes, they noticed something that explained why the police couldn’t find anything – the time stamp on the video was an hour off. Andy immediately searched the tape, accounting for the lost hour. And there he was, the car, the man, right there on camera.
[Andy] I didn’t know what to think. I did not know why this man on that video was driving my daughter’s car. And I asked the police to come immediately to the gas station. They did, along with an FBI agent, who was now also assigned to the case.
[Voiceover] Police were able to identify the man as Michaela’s supervisor at the staffing agency.
[Andy] And I think I was holding it together fairly well at that point, but on the drive home, the weight of this experience overwhelmed me, and I just began to cry out to God, literally, in my car, as I’m driving, telling God that it has to end. We have to know what happened.
[Voiceover] God answered that prayer, and things began to progress quickly. Police staked out the business where the man worked and waited for him to arrive.
[Andy] And then about 3:30 AM that morning, I received a knock at my door. It was the FBI agent and a Cleveland homicide detective, said, “We found a body which we believe to be your daughter.”
[Voiceover] Police discovered that on the night of August 20th, Michaela’s supervisor, Ronald Hillman, had taken her to an abandoned house near his home. It was there a struggle took place. Michaela was raped, beaten, and murdered. Her body was left for several days until Hillman, fearing discovery, dumped her near train tracks not far from his home.
[Reporter] And today we’re uncovering the story behind the charges just filed in the death of a missing woman. Ed Gallek was first to report. He joins us now with what He has learned. Ed.
[Reporter] Charges now against Ronald Hillman. Police say he killed Michaela Diemer—missing for a month, body just found. And we’ve learned more of what happened.
[Andy] Before I went to the sentencing where the family would address the killer, who had now admitted to all the crimes, I prayed on my knees and wrote prayers in my diary, as I often do, and was trying to determine what I would say to him. And I realized I wanted to let him know how important Michaela was to me, how much she meant to me. Then, I told Mr. Hillman: “I’m talking to you very sternly now, but I don’t hate you. In fact, I don’t have any—an ounce of hatred against you. I just feel sorry for you, for what you’ve become.” And I told him that, “You now have life, and while Michaela doesn’t have life, you have time to reform and fix yours.” When I told him that, Mr. Hillman sobbed. He was a broken man. Completely broken. He stood up and he said, “At first, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I think that would be unfair to both myself and everyone here.” He said, “I took responsibility for what I did, and I deserve every punishment I get. I think the only thing I have left to say is, ‘May Michaela rest in peace.’”
[Voiceover] Andy knew where his strength came from that day. He gives all credit to God for getting him through the hearing.
[Andy] I didn’t harbor any resentment. I realized it would have done no good. God will judge. By choosing forgiveness, we are doing what God would have us do because He sees the potential in everyone. He’s made an opportunity for everyone to have eternal life. The burden is too heavy for you to bear a grudge, to bear hatred, to bear resentment. It’s too heavy a burden. Let God take care of that and you go on with your life. As I look back now and I see how much His hand was involved, it’s incredible to see how close God is to us—even in our darkest hours, how close He is.