“It’s a story of hope, of inspiration, of beating the odds,” said Vallejo Police Lt. Lee Horton about an upcoming episode of FBI: Criminal Pursuit that airs Monday on the Investigation Discovery network.The episode called “Bound for Murder,” recounts the ordeals of Vallejo children Xiana Fairfield, 7, and Midsi Sanchez, 8, who were snatched by the same man here within eight months of each other in 1999-2000.
Xiana didn’t survive her encounter with Curtis Dean Anderson, but Sanchez escaped her abductor and helped law enforcement catch him before he stole another life.
“She got away from a monster and lived to tell about it,” said Horton, who was involved in both girls’ cases.
Eventually convicted of crimes against both girls and sentenced to more than 300 years in prison, the former Vallejo cab driver died in custody in 2007 at age 46.
Set to air at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, the show features interviews with Sanchez, Horton and other law enforcement officials, victims’ family members and others who were there, about a time when many in Vallejo were gripped by fear.
“When two young girls go missing from a small California town, the FBI and local police go on high alert searching for a serial predator before he strikes again,” according to promotional material from program producers. “It will take the courage of one tiny hero to put an end to an evil killer who knows no limits.”
It’s partly because the show’s focus was on her escape and not her time in captivity that Sanchez said she agreed to the interview.
“I get offers to do these shows ever once in a while,” she said Thursday. “I don’t really like to tell all the details of what happened to me, I like to focus on the escape and things that might benefit others, and this was one of those.”
Now the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and working three jobs as well as volunteering with families of missing children, Sanchez said participating in the show was a positive experience.
“I felt good after doing the interview. I felt I got a lot off my chest,” she said.
Xiana’s aunt Stephanie Kahalekulu, on the other hand, said this was the most difficult interview she ever recalls giving.
“It was about a week from the anniversary (of Xiana’s abduction) and they weren’t surface questions,” Kahalekulu said. “They discussed the dog that found her and my going to the coroner to see her remains. It was really draining.”
The difficulty would not prevent Kahalekulu from doing another such show, if it has the potential to help someone, she said.
“It’s good that they show all the hard work law enforcement puts in, and if it sheds light on predators and helps people keep a tighter grip on their children, I’d do it again,” she said.
Saying Vallejo police cooperated with the show’s producers because Sanchez was behind it and it seemed to take a “straightforward, not glamorized” approach, Horton said. “The show tells Midsi’s story, and it shows the FBI and how these investigations develop.”
Cases like Xiana’s and Midsi’s never fade from memory for those involved with them, he said.
Horton said he recalls realizing that Midsi’s disappearance on her way home from school so soon after Xiana’s on her way to school, likely meant there was a child predator on the loose in town.
“Those kinds of criminals have ‘types,’ and the descriptions of both girls were so similar,” he said. “We were working very hard on the Xiana case when Midsi went missing and we were angry that this could happen again.”
FBI: Criminal Pursuit “profiles the modern Federal Bureau of Investigation and explores the determination required to solve some of the most mystifying cases of the 21st Century,” the show’s website notes.
“I just hope that everyone that watches this story takes something home with them and if it changes one person’s life, that makes all the difference,” Sanchez said.
Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at Rachelvth.