Melissa Alaniz

Melissa, circa 1987; Age-progression to age 41 (circa 2015); David Wood

  • Missing Since 03/07/1987
  • Missing From El Paso, Texas
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race Hispanic
  • Date of Birth 03/17/1974 (50)
  • Age 12 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'2, 105 pounds
  • 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.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic female. Black hair, brown eyes. Melissa's ears are pierced..

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 10400 block of Orpheus in the northeast part of the city. She has never been heard from again.

Two weeks earlier, Melissa had run away from home after a family argument. She returned after only two days, however, and authorities don't believe she left of her own accord again when she went missing 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 and two other girls, Marjorie Knox and Cheryl Vasquez, are still missing. Melissa knew at least one of the murder victims; they attended H.E. Charles Junior High School together. That victim also knew Marjorie. Vasquez had also formerly attended H.E. Charles Junior High School.

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 with this case summary. Melissa's disappearance remains unsolved.

Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 18, 2019; picture added, details of disappearance updated.