US Woman, Kidnapped As A Baby, Reunited With Family After 51 Years

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Melissa with her parents.

After five decades of searching, a woman in the United States who went missing as a baby, 51 years ago, has been located and reunited with her family. On August 23, 1971, Melissa Highsmith was kidnapped from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, by a person posing as a babysitter, according to a report in The Guardian.

Her mother, Alta Apantenco, posted an advertisement for a babysitter in a newspaper. She hired a woman without ever having met her since someone needed to watch her daughter while she worked since she was raising the little one by herself. Melissa was given to the babysitter by Ms Apatenco’s roommate, who then allegedly kidnapped and disappeared with her.

In September this year, relatives of Highsmith got a tip that she was near Charleston, which is more than 1,100 miles away from Fort Worth. The DNA test results, Melissa’s birthmark and her birthday all helped the family prove that Melissa was the child who had been kidnapped from them 51 years earlier, the outlet further reported. 

Melissa met with her mother, father, and two of her four siblings on Saturday at a celebration at the family’s church in Fort Worth, according to a statement from the group carried by The Guardian.

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According to Sharon Highsmith, Melissa’s sister, her family contacted Lisa Jo Schiele, a clinical laboratory scientist and amateur genealogist, for assistance in deciphering the important DNA results and searching publically accessible information to find Melissa.

“Our family has suffered at the hands of agencies who have mismanaged this case,” Ms Sharon Highsmith 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,” she said speaking to The Guardian. 

It is also reported that their mother faced accusations that she had possibly killed her missing daughter and hidden the crime.

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