It has been more than 50 years since a woman was kidnapped by her babysitter in Texas. Now, her family says they tracked her down with no help from anything other than a DNA test.
In 1971, Melissa Highsmith was just one-year-old growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. Her mother — Alta Apantenco, published an ad in the newspaper looking for a babysitter so that she could go to work without leaving her newborn alone. Alta had a meeting with a woman to see if she was a good fit, but the woman canceled the meeting due to an emergency. The meeting was conducted over the phone and Alta agreed that she would babysit her daughter (despite never having even met her).
The woman went to the house the next day to pick up Melissa. Alta’s roommate handed her over and the woman drove off. That was the last time that Melissa was seen by her mother.
The family spent decades trying to find Melissa. Sadly, the case would go cold over time. Then, in September, members of the Highsmith family received an anonymous tip that Melissa was in Charleston, Texas. The family wasn’t sure if the woman they were led to in the tip was indeed Melissa. They chose to rely on the 23andMe DNA test, a birthmark they knew Melissa had, and her birthday.
Surprisingly, it all checked out.
Over the weekend, the family had a celebration at their church in Fort Worth. This time, Melissa would join them and be reunited with her family for the first time in over 50 years.
“I couldn’t stop crying,” sister Victoria Garner said in the statement. “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.”