Five-year-old Therese's parents, Francis Walsh and Merle Vanderheiden met in 1979 and married in 1980. They were both assigned to the United States Army intelligence units and they eventually moved to Hawaii with Therese.
Francis claimed that there were problems in the marriage and in 1987, he moved out of the house. Sometime after Francis left the household, Merle accused him of sexually abusing Therese, but authorities could find no proof to support her allegations.
In 1990, Francis had sole custody of Therese and remained in Hawaii while Merle moved back to the United States mainland. At the time, Merle was not allowed to have unsupervised visits with her daughter unless she submitted to a psychological evaluation.
Therese was last seen on June 22, 1990 at a daycare center in Kailua, Hawaii. Her teacher noticed a woman wearing dark sunglasses and a hat near the school grounds as the students went back into the center after recess.
The teacher noticed Therese was missing when her classmates took their seats in their room. Authorities believe the woman Therese's teacher saw was Merle and that she abducted her daughter from the daycare center. A felony interference with custody warrant was issued for Merle on July 26, 1990. She has yet to be captured and Therese has not been seen since.
Merle has access to firearms and is considered extremely dangerous. She has the ability to evade authorities due to her intelligence training. She has been spotted in Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Louisiana and Texas throughout the years.
Merle may be employed in a hospital as a social worker or as a forest ranger. She wears eyeglasses or contact lenses, might wear wigs to disguise her appearance and has various aliases.
Some people believe that Merle was aided in Therese's abduction by a controversial organization called Children of the Underground, founded by Faye Yager. The organization assists parents and children who want to disappear due to alleged abuse or otherwise.
After Therese was abducted, Francis help found the Hawaii State Clearinghouse on Missing Children. He passed away in 1998 and Therese's case remains unsolved.
Therese has green\hazel eyes, pierced ears and was last seen wearing a pink t-shirt, pink shorts and pink & white Nike sneakers. She has moles on her back and on both shoulders.