TX TX - Melissa Highsmith, 21 mos, Fort Worth, 23 Aug 1971

Discussion in '1970's Missing' started by shadowangel, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    In order to provide some clarification and background in this new development on the Sharon Marshall case, I wanted to organize the various elements in the case of Melissa Highsmith. I am posting this here as well as the Sharon Marshall forum as the sisters of Melissa, not yet born when she disappeared, are now actively searching for any information and assistance available.

    In August of 1971, Alta Highsmith was a 22 year-old divorced single parent, trying to raise her 21-month old daughter Melissa. Alta had taken a job as a waitress at a restaurant in their hometown of Ft Worth. On the morning of August 25th, at about 7:30 am, a woman who had answered an ad for a babysitter arrived at the apartment Alta shared with a roommate. The woman, described by Alta as "real nice", with "three kids of her own and a big fenced-in yard with a gym set and swings", took Melissa and her clothing.

    The babysitter failed to return Melissa by 8:00 pm that evening, so Alta called the police. At the time, Alta stated "maybe the woman was just lonely and wanted a child". The Fort Worth police in turn contacted the FBI. A composite drawing of the babysitter was circulated. Several leads, many from out of state, were received but none "panned out". Alta made several public pleas for the return of Melissa.

    Investigators initially agreed that the girl was taken by a woman with "maternal instincts", but as weeks went by they developed doubts about this theory. Alta was given a polygraph test at the request of investigators. The investigation seemed to center on Alta and her ex-husband, who had since moved to Illinois.
    No arrests were ever made in Melissa's disappearance, and no serious leads were ever developed.

    WS member Hollow came across several articles from a Texas paper detailing Melissa's disappearance. Knowing of my intense interest in the Sharon Marshall case, she forwarded the articles to me. I researched the case, contacting both the Fort Worth PD and the Dallas bureau of the FBI. I was highly intrigued, due to several factors. First, the time frame. Though Franklin Floyd, kidnapper of the girl known as Sharon Marshall, was in prison at the time Melissa disappeared, it has long been theorized that someone else kidnapped Sharon and later gave he to Floyd. The age is correct-Melissa was 21-months old in '71, and Sharon was approximately 6 in 1975. The first record of Sharon was when Floyd registered her into an Oklahoma elementary school under the name Suzanne Davis (Melissa's middle name is Suzanne).

    Neither the Fort Worth PD or FBI were able to provide any assistance. I then discovered Alta's present address on a website and mailed her letter. At about the same time, by coincidence, fate, or divine intervention, Alta's youngest daughter "Googled" Melissa's name and found the discussion of her under the Sharon Marshall forum. At that time, her older sister Rebecca posted on the forum. We made contact, discussing some of the various details of Melissa's disappearance and the mystery surrounding Sharon. Rebecca informed me that Melissa had brown hair and hazel eyes. To me, this did not immediately eliminate her as a possible match to Sharon, who had blonde hair and blue eyes. (There are later photos of Sharon with brown hair, and so little is known of her earlier life-beside her abuse at the hands of Floyd-that we can't know anything for certain). Matt Birkbeck, author of A Beautiful Child, also saw Rebecca's post. He and Rebecca have also made contact. Matt has expressed interest in facillitating DNA testing comparison between Sharon and members of Melissa's family. Rebecca is working to collect photos of Melissa for comparison and other information from her parents.

    Regardless of whether Melissa is a match to Sharon, this girl deserves to have her story known. She may still be out there, with no idea who she really is. I have discussed with Rebecca the need to have Melissa listed with the various missing persons' organizations, such as the NCMEC, Doe Network, Charley Project, and the Texas Missing Persons Clearinghouse.
     
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  3. Kelly

    Kelly Founder, Project Jason

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    Oddly enough, the sister just contacted me and I have responded. Hopefully, we will be working with them and help out in any way that we can.
     
  4. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    That's great to hear, Kelly. It amazes me to see how things all come together sometimes.
     
  5. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    Though I have already posted this thread under the Sharon Marshall forum, I also wanted to add it here for discussion.

    In August of 1971, Alta Highsmith was a 22 year-old divorced single parent, trying to raise her 21-month old daughter Melissa. Alta had taken a job as a waitress at a restaurant in their hometown of Ft Worth. On the morning of August 25th, at about 7:30 am, a woman who had answered an ad for a babysitter arrived at the apartment Alta shared with a roommate. The woman, described by Alta as "real nice", with "three kids of her own and a big fenced-in yard with a gym set and swings", took Melissa and her clothing.

    The babysitter failed to return Melissa by 8:00 pm that evening, so Alta called the police. At the time, Alta stated "maybe the woman was just lonely and wanted a child". The Fort Worth police in turn contacted the FBI. A composite drawing of the babysitter was circulated. Several leads, many from out of state, were received but none "panned out". Alta made several public pleas for the return of Melissa.

    Investigators initially agreed that the girl was taken by a woman with "maternal instincts", but as weeks went by they developed doubts about this theory. Alta was given a polygraph test at the request of investigators. The investigation seemed to center on Alta and her ex-husband, who had since moved to Illinois.
    No arrests were ever made in Melissa's disappearance, and no serious leads were ever developed.

    WS member Hollow came across several articles from a Texas paper detailing Melissa's disappearance. Knowing of my intense interest in the Sharon Marshall case, she forwarded the articles to me. I researched the case, contacting both the Fort Worth PD and the Dallas bureau of the FBI. I was highly intrigued, due to several factors. First, the time frame. Though Franklin Floyd, kidnapper of the girl known as Sharon Marshall, was in prison at the time Melissa disappeared, it has long been theorized that someone else kidnapped Sharon and later gave he to Floyd. The age is correct-Melissa was 21-months old in '71, and Sharon was approximately 6 in 1975. The first record of Sharon was when Floyd registered her into an Oklahoma elementary school under the name Suzanne Davis (Melissa's middle name is Suzanne).

    Neither the Fort Worth PD or FBI were able to provide any assistance. I then discovered Alta's present address on a website and mailed her letter. At about the same time, by coincidence, fate, or divine intervention, Alta's youngest daughter "Googled" Melissa's name and found the discussion of her under the Sharon Marshall forum. At that time, her older sister Rebecca posted on the forum. We made contact, discussing some of the various details of Melissa's disappearance and the mystery surrounding Sharon. Rebecca informed me that Melissa had brown hair and hazel eyes. To me, this did not immediately eliminate her as a possible match to Sharon, who had blonde hair and blue eyes. (There are later photos of Sharon with brown hair, and so little is known of her earlier life-beside her abuse at the hands of Floyd-that we can't know anything for certain). Matt Birkbeck, author of A Beautiful Child, also saw Rebecca's post. He and Rebecca have also made contact. Matt has expressed interest in facillitating DNA testing comparison between Sharon and members of Melissa's family. Rebecca is working to collect photos of Melissa for comparison and other information from her parents.

    Regardless of whether Melissa is a match to Sharon, this girl deserves to have her story known. She may still be out there, with no idea who she really is. I have discussed with Rebecca the need to have Melissa listed with the various missing persons' organizations, such as the NCMEC, Doe Network, Charley Project, and the Texas Missing Persons Clearinghouse.
     
  6. Yaya

    Yaya Esse Quam Videri

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    It is sad that this case isn't on any of the other sites. Is Rebecca trying to get her listed with the Doe Network? I'm sure Megan would list her at the Charley Project if asked. She would need some pictures.

    I agree, this is very interesting and needs its own thread. Thanks for starting it.
    Hopefully Rebecca will return here and help with some questions.

    Do you still have contact info for Rebecca?
     
  7. shadowangel

    shadowangel Black cats consider me unlucky.

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    I do. She had called Friday, but due to other commitments we missed each other. She seemed really interested in getting Melissa posted on as many sites as possible. I e-mailed her this evening, hopefully I will get an update on photos and the composite of the babysitter sometime tomorrow.
     
  8. Yaya

    Yaya Esse Quam Videri

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    Shadow I could find only one article on Melissa. Will you post some of the articles Hollow sent you?
     
  9. itsreenw

    itsreenw Well-Known Member

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    Yaya, can you post the article you found? I've had no luck searching on my own.
     
  10. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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    Sorry, I wasn't aware of this. After all I'm just the one who spent months and months working on it, including being in touch with 4 major Dallas reporters, who are interested in doing stories about it ,funny how I don't know a thing that's happening now. hmmmmmmmm
     
  11. Yaya

    Yaya Esse Quam Videri

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    Hollow will you please post the articles. No one was trying to steal your thunder. Shadowangel is not that way and neither am I. You of all people should know that.
     
  12. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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    No, you go right ahead and post them yaya. I had originally asked itreenw to post them when I sent them to her months ago but she didn't know how to do it either and had asked if anyone knew how on the possible matches thread. No offense taken.
     
  13. itsreenw

    itsreenw Well-Known Member

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    Hollow, Shadowangel and Yaya~

    I dropped the ball and I apologize. I had to go back through the posts to recall what happened. I received the emails of the articles on 12/12/05. It does seem like it has been a lot longer than that.

    I found the post where I said I couldn't figure out how to post them so I asked if anyone knew how to do it. One suggestion was to PM a particular person for assistance or post something on Forum Finesse. I regret to say that I did neither.

    Until about 5 minutes ago, I didn't even recall reading those posts but I know I did. That whole time period between Thanksgiving and New Years Day seems like a blur but it was around that time that I was surfing the net for information for my aunt. My cousin, Dominic Hinton, was killed shortly before Thanksgiving while serving in Iraq. He was from TX and was 24 yrs old. I think my mind has blocked that time out. How weird.

    Great job Hollow and Yaya on locating all the articles.
     
  14. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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    Melissa Suzanne Highsmith has just been listed as missing with Texas Missing Persons.
     
  15. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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    Melissa Suzanne Highsmith has just been listed as missing with Texas missing persons.
     
  16. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    Hooray, that is some progress!
     
  17. SherlockJr

    SherlockJr New Member

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    I couldn't find her on their website. :confused:
     
  18. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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    Texas missing persons is awaiting photos of Melissa to post her on the website, but she is now listed as officially missing.
     
  19. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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  20. Hollow

    Hollow Former member

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  21. Bobbisangel

    Bobbisangel New Member

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    What an adorable little baby Melissa was. That would really be something if she was found after all of this time.
     

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