Melissa Alaniz

1 AP
Left: Melissa, circa 1987;
Right: Age-progression to age 41 (circa 2015)


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: March 7, 1987 from El Paso, Texas
  • Classification: Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth: March 17, 1974
  • Age: 12 years old
  • Height and Weight: 5'2, 105 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic female. Black hair, brown eyes.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A black t-shirt with the Iron Maiden band logo, black and white checked jeans, white socks with red and blue stripes on top, and white sneakers.
  • Bar

    Details of Disappearance

    Melissa was last seen in El Paso, Texas on March 7, 1987. She went out to play video games at a convenience store off Rushing and never returned to her residence in the northeast part of the city. She has never been heard from again. Two weeks before Melissa vanished, she ran away from home after a family argument. She returned after two days, however, and authorities don't believe she left of her own accord again when she vanished in March 1987.

    That same year, several other females disappeared from El Paso, and most of them were later found murdered and buried in the desert. The victims were all small, slender young women in their teens and early twenties. Melissa knew at least one of them, a classmate with whom she had friends in common. She lived in the same neighborhood as several of the victims and her parents worked with the parents of another victim. Melissa and two other girls, Marjorie Knox and Cheryl Vasquez, are still missing.

    David Leonard Wood, a serial rapist who was paroled in January 1987, was later convicted of murdering six of the El Paso victims, though he maintains his innocence to this day. He was sentenced to death in 1993, but his sentence remains under appeal, as his lawyers allege he is mentally retarded. The murders of El Paso girls and women stopped after Wood's October 1987 arrest for rape. He has not been charged in connection with Melissa's case and it's unclear whether he was involved. A photo of Wood is posted below this case summary.

    Melissa's disappearance remains unsolved.

    Above: David Wood


    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    El Paso Police Department


    Source Information
    Texas Department of Public Safety
    The Serial Killer Crime Index
    The Austin American-Statesman
    The Houston Chronicle
    The Las Cruces Sun-News


    Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated April 18, 2016; age-progression updated.

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