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

AliceInPain

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2010
Messages
2,251
Reaction score
6,137
I agree Releasing news of a reported sighting from a computer generated image of someone who hasn’t been seen in 50 years seems like a stretch. Has to be more to the story
She looks just like she did as a baby, adult version. Ears and eyes etc. imo.
But I'm wondering what the story is too.
Guess we have to wait until official DNA results from LE come back.
 

Onebest

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2014
Messages
589
Reaction score
1,287
According to her family she has been found so I am speculating its true. Their family says DNA testing matches and pictures are shared of the family reuniting. Pics that leave no doubt in my opinion to family resemblance. This is/was the oldest “unsolved” missing person case in Texas!
 

Schiellj

A Genetic Genealogy obsessed Laboratory Scientist!
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
113
Website
findbarbcotton.com
Abducted girl home for holidays after 50+ years

After 51 years, one family reconnected with their loved one this Thanksgiving.

Melissa Suzanne Highsmith was 22 months old when she disappeared in 1971.

Her mother, Alta Apantenco, had left the toddler in the care of her roommate and their home in Fort Worth, Texas. The roommate handed off Melissa to the babysitter on Aug. 23. No one who knew the girl had ever seen her since.

Though missing for decades, the family never forgot about Melissa. They continued to throw birthday parties for her, including the most recent one in November.

That same day, the family found a match in DNA results.

Those DNA results as well as public records research helped them find their long lost loved one. Melissa reunited with her parents and two of her four siblings for the first time this weekend.

“I couldn’t stop crying,” said Victoria Garner, Melissa’s sister, according to a Facebook post. “I was overjoyed and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister is right in front of me and that we found her.”

The family hosted a celebration Saturday at their church in Fort Worth.

“It's overwhelming and incredible to me,” said Sharon Highsmith, Melissa’s younger sister. “We have worked with law enforcement and we've tried to do our own private family investigations. For decades, my parents have chased leads, hiring their own labs and investigators. And yet, these DNA tests, which are available to anyone, helped us find our lost loved one.”

DIY detective work helped connect the family to Lisa Jo Schiele, a clinical laboratory scientist and an amateur genealogist. Schiele helped the family interpret the DNA results. From there, Schiele mined publicly available records to locate Melissa.

“This is not the hardest genealogy puzzle I’ve ever solved,” she said. “I hope what I do gives other families the confidence to do the same. Never give up.”

Melissa’s disappearance occurred half a century ago, after her mother faced a difficult choice.

A single mom and fearful of losing her job, Apantenco hired the babysitter without meeting face to face.

“My mom did the best she could with the limited resources she had. She couldn’t risk getting fired. So, she trusted the person who said they’d care for her child,” Sharon said. “For 50 years, my mom has lived with the guilt of losing Melissa. She’s also lived with community and nationwide accusations that she hurt or killed her own baby. I’m so glad we have Melissa back. I’m also grateful we have vindication for my mom.”

Sharon, age 45, lives in Spain. She expects to meet Melissa at Christmas.

Sharon and her siblings, Rebecca L Del Bosque, Victoria Garner and Jeff Highsmith as well as their mother and father, Jeffrie Highsmith, are speaking out, advocating for families like them.

“Our family has suffered at the hands of agencies who have mismanaged this case. We’ve also suffered at the hands of media outlets who’ve sensationalized our family’s pain. This adds to the hurt our family is already experiencing.” 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.”

Sharon, her siblings and their parents encourage other families with missing loved ones to keep believing.

“Never give up hope,” she said. “Chase every lead.”


Written by: Katie Ryan-Anderson
November 27th, 2022
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot_20221127_190358_Facebook.jpg
    Screenshot_20221127_190358_Facebook.jpg
    129 KB · Views: 33

Onebest

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2014
Messages
589
Reaction score
1,287
and
 

AliceInPain

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2010
Messages
2,251
Reaction score
6,137
I wonder if this is the same woman who the brother had take a DNA test that came back as not a match. The brother didn’t feel the results were accurate. Has the Facebook mentioned this???
I'm curious about that...
This article says the family are "still awaiting the results of an official DNA test from Melissa herself", but they matched with her children on 23andMe.
Also says Melissa "was raised just 10 minutes from where she was abducted".
I'm having a theory here that I'll keep to myself until LE confirms and we know more.
Who's Oscar?

FOUND: Melissa Highsmith's family 'overjoyed' after being reunited with sister abducted in 1971
 

Brotherfudz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
239
Reaction score
273
I'm curious about that...
This article says the family are "still awaiting the results of an official DNA test from Melissa herself", but they matched with her children on 23andMe.
Also says Melissa "was raised just 10 minutes from where she was abducted".
I'm having a theory here that I'll keep to myself until LE confirms and we know more.
Who's Oscar?

FOUND: Melissa Highsmith's family 'overjoyed' after being reunited with sister abducted in 1971
“Oscar” was who the brother thought kidnapped Melissa. He had an adopted daughter Melissa’s age with questionable birth history (potential illegal adoption). But apparently the newly found Melissa was raised by her mom and didn’t know her dad so this must be someone completely different.
 

watcher9

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
Messages
7,619
Reaction score
8,646
Just saw this article and rushed here - guess I didn't type it in right to show up on "search", but found it in "breaking news." I was beginning to think it was just a click bait story.
This is just amazing! Good or bad, this will give hopes to so many families for their loved ones.

Yesterday, the Highsmith family reunited with their beloved daughter after 51 years of waiting, using a 23 and Me DNA test to locate her.


 

Onebest

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2014
Messages
589
Reaction score
1,287
This article gives more insight into Mel's life. Its gut wrenching what she went through and I cannot imagine her real families pain knowing how she struggled. I can only hope they find a measure of peace in their togetherness now before it was too late for her parents to see her again. This is a gift beyond measure.

 

Seni

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2017
Messages
2,996
Reaction score
9,432


Snippets:

(..)
The family used the results of a 23andMe DNA test, a birthmark on Melissa and her birthday to confirm that she indeed was the girl who had been taken from them 51 years ago.

(..)

Sharon Highsmith said her family connected with a clinical laboratory scientist and amateur genealogist named Lisa Jo Schiele to help them with interpreting the key DNA results and mining publicly available records to locate Melissa.

(..)
 
Top