Fort Worth, TX

Possible Sighting of Missing Child Melissa Highsmith Kidnapped in 1971

True Crime Mysteries (Megan)

Melissa will be 51 years old this year, and her siblings are still searching
An aged progressed image of Melissa Highsmith and an image of her as a baby (image courtesy of NCMEC

It was in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1971 when Alta Highsmith placed an ad in the paper for a babysitter. A woman who called herself “Ruth Johnson” answered the ad and stated that she would love to look after Atla’s one-year-old toddler, Melissa.

The women arranged to meet at Alta’s job, but the woman didn’t show up. Johnson later called the next day, claiming she had been in a car accident on the way and apologized for missing their appointment. She stated that she looked after other children, had a large home with a big backyard, and really wanted the job. Alta agreed to hire the woman and made arrangements for her to pick up Melissa the following morning.

Alta had to go to work early, so she left Melissa with her roommate to arrange the pickup. Johnson came to the apartment on August 23, around 7:30 AM, and showed up nicely dressed, and Alta’s roommate gave her Melissa. When Alta returned home from work and waited for Ruth Johnson to bring back her child, she waited a few hours but called the police around 8 PM.

Law enforcement determined that the woman had likely used a fake name; unfortunately, there had been little to go on. The roommate provided a statement about the woman, and a sketch was drawn up. She stated that the woman had been wearing an odd outfit for the hot Texas August. She wore all white with long gloves and a scarf over her head and around her neck. She said the outfit looked vaguely like an old nurse’s uniform.

It has long since been believed that the child had been abducted in order to raise the child with a different family, perhaps in an illegal adoption scheme. Authorities reopened in 2005 at the request of Melissa’s sister, who has since been spearheading Melissa’s cold case along with her other siblings.

Melissa would now be fifty-two years old. On September 11, an anonymous tip came into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children saying that they knew a woman living on Daniels Island in Charleston, South Carolina, who they believed might be Melissa Highsmith.

While we don’t know for sure at this time if the woman has been found or confirmed to be Melissa, this is a great opportunity to bring further awareness to her case. You never know when a tip will lead to the conclusion of a cold case.

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