Melissa Highsmith was little over an year-old when she was abducted by her babysitter back in 1971. More than 50 years after the incident, she finally reunited with her mother, her father and two of her four siblings. Melissa’s family had been on a lookout for her right after she dissappeared, but it took them too long to get hold of her.
According to The Guardian, Melissa’s mother Alta Apantenco had put out an advertisement in the newspaper looking for a babysitter for her in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1971. In search of some immediate help so she could raise her alone, Alta hired a woman who expressed interest in the job without ever meeting her in person.
A missing complaint was filed in search of Melissa and she was never forgotten, even after over than half-century later. A Facebook page named “Finding Melissa Highsmith” was also created to look for her. Finally in September this year, her loved ones received an anonymous tip that she was around Charleston.
A 23andMe DNA test, a birthmark on Melissa and her birthday were some details used to confirm that she indeed was the girl who had been taken from them 51 years ago. She reunited with her family during a celebration at the family’s church in Fort Worth on Saturday.
Her sister Victoria Garner in a statement said, “I was overjoyed, and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister [was] right in front of me and that we found her,” The Guardian reported.
Melissa has another sister named Sharon Highsmith, who she plans on meeting this Christmas, when she will fly to the US from Spain. Sharon said her relatives had turned to law enforcement officials for assistance. However, it was their own private search for Melissa, which included the 23andMe test, that paid off.
“Our family has suffered at the hands of agencies who have mismanaged this case,” Sharon said. “Right now, we just want to get to know Melissa, welcome her to the family and make up for 50 years of lost time.”
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