Over five decades ago, a twenty-two-month-old baby girl named Melissa Highsmith tragically vanished after a babysitter kidnapped her from her parent’s home in Fort Worth, Texas.
Recently, though, the Highsmith family revealed some post-Thanksgiving news that they are beyond thankful for. Melissa was finally found in Fort Worth.
After disappearing in 1971, her parents, Jeffrie and Alta– as well as police– searched high and low for the missing toddler. They even followed up on tips regarding possible sightings states away in North Carolina.
Despite all of these efforts, though, it turned out that Melissa had been living in Fort Worth for the enter time under the name of Melanie Walden.
As for how the Highsmith family and Melissa were finally reunited, the family said that DNA led the way.
“Our finding Melissa was purely because of DNA, not because of any police or FBI involvement, podcast involvement, or even our family’s own private investigations or speculations,” Sharon Highsmith said in a Facebook post.
So, just a few days ago, Melissa and her parents were reunited for the first time in fifty-one years. And now, they are working on getting to know each other again.
“I just couldn’t believe it. I thought I would never see her again,” Melissa’s mother, Atla, recalled after learning they had found her daughter.
The discovery was kickstarted in September when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shared a tip that detailed how Melissa had possibly been spotted in Charleston, South Carolina.