Kidnapped Toddler Reunites With Her Family After 51 Years

We all are aware that kidnappings take place. We often get Amber alerts on our phones, causing us to realize just how common it is.

It isn’t just something that is limited to today, however, in 1971 it happened to 22-month-old Melissa Highsmith. A babysitter reportedly abducted her 51 years ago, but now she is back with her family and spending Thanksgiving with them.

Photo: YouTube/WFAA

Jeffrey Highsmith, his father, spoke with CBS news and said after 51 years it’s a very emotional experience. He describes the reunion for the entire family. Her mother also was in tears when she told the news station that she didn’t think she would ever see her daughter again.

Although there are many missing person cases in the United States, this was one of the oldest. According to, her biological mother, Alta, was working in Fort Worth, Texas, and hired a babysitter while she was taking care of her full-time job. Her roommate had let the babysitter in.

Melissa was supposed to be with the babysitter but the babysitter never came back. Alta was even looked at suspiciously by the police for many years as they thought she had something to do with it.

Photo: YouTube/WFAA

Melissa wasn’t very far away from the family. In fact, she was only 20 minutes away but it wasn’t until DNA testing that they were able to determine who she was.

She was living as Melanie Walden and her children’s DNA test was what broke the case. When a DNA test by 23 and Me connected the children with the Highsmiths, they reached out to her.

Melissa wasn’t sure at first, but then went to the person that she thought was her mother all those years and asked her if there was anything she needed to tell her. That is when her “mother” confirmed that she’d been abducted, and Melissa agreed to take a DNA test.

Victoria Highsmith wrote on Facebook and said: “Our finding Melissa was purely because of DNA, not because of any police or FBI involvement, podcast involvement, or even our family’s own private investigations or speculations.”

Melissa got together with one of her siblings on Thanksgiving. She also visited her parents whom she hadn’t known all of those years.

She said that she never felt the love that she should have from the woman that raised her as her child. She was 15 when she ran away from home and worked on the streets.

We don’t have any information about the woman who originally kidnapped her.

Melissa says that the experience has been overwhelming but she still considers it the most wonderful feeling in the world. Her mother is elated and can’t even describe the emotion.

Now is the time when they will try to make up for lost time. Melissa even wants her father to walk her down the aisle so she will remarry her husband.

You can learn more in this video:

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