Details of Disappearance
Melissa's family lived with two roommates, Wanda Faye Reed and her common-law husband, in the 600 block of Lamberton Street in Trenton, New Jersey in 1988. Reed is mentally disabled and functions at the level of a four- to seven-year-old child. A photo of her is posted with this case summary.
On March 6, 1988, Reed asked Melissa's mother, Rebecca McGuinn, for permission to take the baby for a walk. Rebecca consented and Reed left with the baby. When she returned, just eight minutes later, she had a neighbor with her and Melissa was gone. The child has never been seen again.
Reed told several conflicting stories to explain Melissa's disappearance. At first she claimed an unidentified African-American man jumped out of a car, knocked her down and took Melissa. She later said she had dropped or thrown the baby into the Delaware River. A third story implicated the neighbor woman who accompanied Reed home that day; Reed said she'd given the baby to the woman in exchange for drugs.
An extensive search of the river turned up no sign of Melissa, and it would have been difficult for Reed to have walked the distance there and back within the eight-minute time frame. The neighbor whom Reed claimed had bought Melissa denied having had anything to do with the baby's disappearance and she was cooperative with the investigation, as were Melissa's parents.
It's possible Reed harmed the baby because she was jealous. The night before Melissa's disappearance, there was a party at the house and the guests paid attention to Melissa while ignoring Reed's two-month-old son. Reed allegedly had two other children who had been placed for adoption sometime prior to 1988.
Two days after Melissa's disappearance, Reed was charged with kidnapping. She was found incompetent to stand trial and the charges were dropped in December 1989. Reed was then sent to live in a facility for mentally disabled individuals. She now lives with relatives.
Melissa's family moved to Arkansas after her disappearance. Her father died in 2008, but her mother and two brothers are still alive. Rebecca traveled to New Jersey in 2011, took a polygraph about her daughter's disappearance, and passed; she was ruled out as a suspect in the investigation.
Melissa's case is classified as a non-family abduction due to the unclear circumstances involved in her disappearance. Her case remains unsolved.