VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - In August of 2000 police in Vallejo had been looking for a missing seven-year-old girl named Xiana Fairchild for more than eight months.
Nobody knew it at the time, but Xiana had already been murdered by a local taxi driver named Curtis Dean Anderson who had also kidnapped and killed 7-year-old Amber Schwartz from Pinole, and would later claim to have killed 13 other girls.
Then on August 12th eight-year-old second grader Midsi Sanchez started walking home alone from Vallejo's Highland Elementary School.
" I was excited for that day, it was the day of my birthday party, and I wanted to help my mom get everything set up says Midsi, " I was about two blocks from home when I noticed a gentleman sitting in his car."
It was Curtis Dean Anderson.
"As I got closer I noticed he was watching me through his rear view mirror and my gut instinct told me to cross the street" said Midsi in a recent interview with KTVU.
Excited for her birthday party, Midsi kept walking as she got closer Anderson got out and asked her to help him grab a roll of duct tape out of his car.
" As soon as I reached in to grab the duct tape from the floor board he just leaned over me from behind. He put his hand over my mouth and I tried to scream but nobody could hear me.”
Within seconds Anderson was driving away. He drove past Midsi's house, where her mom was inside getting ready for the birthday party.
"I'm watching my house I just remember thinking I want to be home so bad. "
Anderson first drove Midsi across the freeway to a shopping center parking lot where parked in a corner and pulled out a set of clothes.
"He made me change my clothes, and then he pulls out alcohol and he poured it into a shot glass and said drink it .
That night says Midsi she was forced to sleep in the parking lot of a truck stop off highway 80 on the outskirts of Vallejo. There Anderson abused her and then pulled out a padlock and chain.
"it was one of those long silver link chains and he tied it really tight around my leg and locked it up with a padlock. And I thought, this is it. I'm never going to see my family again.'
Meanwhile word spread quickly that another little girl from Vallejo was missing.
" Boy you're searching for every little tiny clue that might lead you to something" says Vallejo Police Lt. Jeff Bassett, "you almost feel helpless."
For the next day and a half Anderson drove around the Bay Area with Midsi chained by the leg.
"He would put up blankets and towels to cover up the windows so nobody could see inside. He would leave me in the car to go watch my Mom cry on TV."
Then, two days after the kidnapping, Anderson made a mistake. He left Midsi alone and left behind his ring of keys.
" I just picked the smallest one and unlocked the padlock I had chained around my leg"
Midsi jumped out of the car window and started walking away.
"I heard him yell at me and say hey get back here. And I looked back at him and I just shook my head like no I'm not going back. "
A few hours later Curtis Dean Anderson was in custody and Midsi Sanchez was on her way home.
Midsi's father carried her in, as dozens of people celebrated her return.
"It was surreal" says Lt Bassett "to think that a child that young was able to free herself and get away is just stuff that's stranger than fiction."
Midsi had her birthday party, but things would never be the same.
"Everyone was there to show their love and support" says Midsi "but I was still not OK."
For the next few years Midsi was in therapy, then when she turned 12 things in her life started to unravel.
"I was loaded. drunk. doing God knows what." says Midsi.
"I remember thinking this girl is self destructive" says Lt Bassett "we thought it was only a matter of time before she ended up dead somewhere."
In 2009, Midsi then 16, was severely injured as a passenger in a drunk driving accident. Once again she was fighting for her life, but this time things would be different.
"Coming home from the hospital I found out I was pregnant, with my daughter who's now six. That was life changing for me. that was my wake-up call."
Now 24, Midsi is living a clean life still in Vallejo, working and raising her daughter. She also helps council families of missing children.
"This is my purpose" says Midsi, "when I think about Xiana and Amber and all of the other girls that didn't make it I'm just overwhelmed."
Curtis Dean Anderson was sentenced to 300 years in prison. he died in 2007 from kidney failure. Now Midsi says she owes it to the children Anderson killed and other victims to make sure she makes a difference with her life.