FAIRFIELD — More than 30 years after the fact, the family of Clark Toshiro Handa knows what happened to him — and who is responsible.
Sometime during the evening of Aug. 22, 1984, 3-year-old Clark was abducted from his bedroom at his home on Magellan Road (which is now Auto Mall Parkway).
A ransom note was left at the scene, demanding money for Clark’s safe return. Although the family complied with the demands, the persons responsible for Clark’s abduction never attempted any further contact with the family and he was never returned. His family was not wealthy, which made him an unusual target for a ransom abduction.
The Fairfield Police Department, along with the FBI, tirelessly worked on this case for many years, conducting interviews, processing evidence, and following leads. The case remained an open homicide investigation.
Clark, who was born on Dec. 5, 1980, remained on national lists of missing children, with his photo altered every few years to show what he might look like at different ages, including 33 in 2013. His picture was printed on flyers and milk cartons. For years, the only leads that turned up were false ones.
The Fairfield Police Department’s Cold Case Unit, again with the assistance of the FBI, re-examined the case in 2011. Detectives were able to obtain evidence that led to the identification of the individuals responsible for the abduction. Detectives also learned that Clark was killed not long after he was reported missing.
In April 2016, the Solano County District Attorney’s Office charged Michael Anthony Blas Fejarang with the murder of Clark along with special circumstances because the murder occurred during the commission of a kidnapping. Fejerang was also charged with kidnapping for ransom.
At the time of the crime, Fejarang, now 57, was a 23-year-old Fairfield resident and a friend of the Handa family. When he was charged with Clark’s murder, he was serving a 26-year prison sentence for a separate child molestation case from Solano County in 2002 and was housed at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla. The District Attorney’s Office worked with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to transfer Fejarang to Solano County for trial.
Detectives said that Fejarang planned the abduction, killed the boy just days after kidnapping him, and buried the body in the outskirts of Vacaville. Fejarang says he can’t remember the location of the unmarked grave. Fejarang says he had accomplices, a woman and a man, but the woman is dead and the man’s whereabouts are unknown.
In August 2017, Fejarang pleaded no contest to first-degree murder. A plea deal resulted in the dropping of the kidnapping charges. Last January, he was sentenced by Solano County Presiding Judge John Ellis to an additional 25 years to life in prison, to be served concurrently with his child molestation sentence.
Clark was the youngest of nine children. His parents, who had separated about a month before his disappearance, had three children together and his mother had six from a previous relationship. Among those who spoke at the sentencing hearing were Clark’s father, Ron Handa; uncle, Earl Handa; and sister, Rachel Borg.
The Daily Republic quoted the father as saying that Clark was a vibrant child whose disappearance left the family devastated; the sister read a statement from the mother, Linda, who was unable to attend, saying that she holds on to the memory of the brief time Clark spent with his family before he was taken.
Borg, who was 7 years old and was sleeping next to her brother when he was snatched, has said that she wanted the death penalty for Fejarang. That too was dropped in the plea deal.
The family hopes to someday find Clark and bring him home.