It’s like Christmas came early for one family in Fort Worth thanks to this Christmas miracle. The relatives of a woman who had been missing for more than half a century disclosed on Sunday that she had been located in Fort Worth this week.
In 1971, Melissa Highsmith was taken from the home she shared with her parents in Fort Worth by a babysitter. Melissa has not been seen or heard from since that time. When she was discovered missing, she had only been alive for 22 months at that point.
During the subsequent fifty-one years, Highsmith’s family and the police conducted an exhaustive search for her, going so far as to investigate recent leads on probable sightings in North Carolina.
Melissa was tracked down and found to be residing in Fort Worth under the alias Melanie Walden.
An analysis of Melissa’s DNA, according to the Highsmith family, was the decisive factor that allowed them to locate her.
Sharon Highsmith claimed on Facebook that “our locating Melissa was solely due to DNA,” and that “it was not because of any police or FBI engagement, podcast involvement, or even our family’s own private research or guesses.”
On Saturday, Melissa’s parents finally got to see their daughter after an absence of more than half a century.
Melissa and her family have been estranged from each other for the past 51 years; today, they are making up for lost time and getting to know each other.
Melissa says, “It’s good to see what I looked like as a baby,” as she sits next to her parents and looks through photographs of herself that she has never seen before. “It’s good to see what I looked like as a baby.”
Since she was abducted when she was only 22 months old, Melissa, who is now 53 years old, is reunited with her parents for the very first time.
Melissa has the following to say about the experience: “It’s overwhelming, but at the same time, it’s the most lovely sensation in the world.”
At this point, her mother, Atla Apantencl, is still taking everything in. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t run across her ever again.”
The moment that her father, Jeffrie Highsmith, learned that his daughter had been found is one that he will never forget. “They told me, ‘Dad, she’s alive,’ and I immediately started crying… after 51 years, it’s quite emotional.”
It wasn’t until September of this year that the family received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that reported that Melissa had possibly been spotted in Charleston, South Carolina. Prior to that, the family had spent years searching for Melissa, and her demise has been on their minds for decades.
Although the information turned out to be false in the end, it brought Melissa’s case to the attention of the public on a national scale and encouraged her family to continue their search.
In the end, a DNA test from 23AndMe established a connection between Melissa’s children and the rest of their family. Melissa at first suspected that her family’s Facebook message to her was a hoax since she was suspicious of the source. My father contacted me through messenger with a text message, in which he stated, “You know, I’ve been hunting for my daughter for 51 years.”
Melissa had no idea that her biological family was looking for her the entire time they were looking for her.
“I went to the person who had been responsible for my upbringing and asked them, “Is there anything you need to tell me?” in addition to this, it was established that she was aware that I was baby Melissa; therefore, this merely brought the situation into focus “Melissa stated.
After that, she gave her consent to have a DNA test done, and on Thanksgiving, she was reunited with her parents, as well as her brother.
Apantencl remarked that it was the most memorable day of her entire life. Jeff Highsmith, her brother, described it as “a dream come true.”
Victoria, Melissa’s sister, was likewise happy to finally meet the sister she’d been told about but had never met. She expressed her gratitude by stating, “I’m thankful to have her back.” “It’s so good to have you back, sissy! Welcome to the family!”
Melissa claims that she can feel the affection of a family that she was never a part of but also was never really distant from. Fort Worth was her home for the better part of her life. “My emotions are so strong and overwhelming right now that it feels like my heart might burst. Simply said, I couldn’t be happier right now.” She has stated that she intends to revert to going by the name Melissa.
There is currently no information available on the person who kidnapped her.