Melissa Highsmith parents, Alta Apantenco and Jeffrie Highsmith, were overjoyed to find their long-lost daughter after more than 50 years.
Melissa Highsmith’s abduction at 22 months in August 1971 shocked the Fort Worth community.
After more than 50 years of searching for answers, she was finally reunited with her birth family, ending a long and emotional journey.
Melissa’s kidnapping by Ruth Johnson, who posed as a nanny, left her unaware of her true identity for decades.
Her mother, a single parent then, had sought a babysitter through a newspaper ad, leading to Johnson’s involvement.
The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children documented the limited leads and evidence in the case, highlighting the dangers of entrusting children to strangers.
Melissa Highsmith Parents Alta Apantenco And Jeffrie Highsmith
Melissa Highsmith’s parents are Alta Apantenco and Jeffrie Highsmith.
Alta Apantenco entrusted the care of their 21-month-old daughter to a roommate on August 23, 1971, who then handed her off to a babysitter.
At the time, Alta Apantenco worked as a waitress and had recently separated from Melissa’s Father, Jeffrie Highsmith.
Following their separation, Alta Apantenco moved to Fort Worth and placed an advertisement in a newspaper seeking a caregiver for Melissa.
Unfortunately, it was during this time that Melissa was abducted, leading to a decades-long search for answers.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children documented the case, highlighting the anguish and determination of Melissa’s parents to find their daughter.
Melissa Highsmith Siblings and Family
Melissa Highsmith’s family, including her mother, Alta Apantenco, her Father, Jeffrie Highsmith, and her siblings Garner, Sharon Highsmith, Rebecca Del Bosque, and Jeff Highsmith.
They share a powerful message for those searching for missing loved ones: “Never give up” and “Chase every lead.”
After more than 50 years since Melissa’s abduction by her babysitter in Texas, the family experienced overwhelming joy as they were finally reunited with their long-lost sister.
Through their determination and a DNA test, they could track Melissa down without the assistance of law enforcement or external involvement.
The resilience and unwavering commitment of Melissa’s siblings and family in finding her is a testament to the enduring bond of love and the pursuit of justice.
How Was Melissa Highsmith Found?
Melissa Highsmith was found through a combination of DNA testing, online databases, and the dedicated efforts of her family and a genealogist.
Melissa’s Father, Jeffrie Highsmith, submitted his DNA to 23andMe, a website known for connecting individuals with relatives and building family trees.
The database identified a match to three grandchildren, who were the children of Melanie Brown (also known as Melanie Walden).
A subsequent DNA test confirmed Melanie Brown’s identity as Melissa Highsmith.
Lisa Jo Schiele, a clinical laboratory scientist, and amateur genealogist, worked closely with the family, interpreting the DNA results and conducting research using public records.
The Vanished Podcast, which featured the family’s story, connected them with Schiele.
Through their collaborative efforts, Melissa was finally reunited with her parents and two of her four siblings during the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2022.
The discovery brought immense joy and emotional reactions from Melissa’s family, as they expressed overwhelming happiness and a sense of disbelief that their long-lost sister had been found.