Melissa Suzanne Highsmith


Melissa, circa 1971

  • Missing Since 08/23/1971
  • Missing From Fort Worth, Texas
  • Classification Non-Family Abduction
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Age 1 year old
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female.

Details of Disappearance

Melissa was abducted from her home in Fort Worth, Texas on August 23, 1971, by a woman who posed as a babysitter and calling herself "Ruth Johnson." Melissa was just 21 months old at the time. Johnson took the baby away, supposedly just to watch her for the day, but never returned her.

In November 2022, Melissa was identified by a DNA test done by the genealogical service 23andMe. She still lived in Fort Worth and had been raised under the name Melanie Walden by a woman she thought was her mother. When Walden confronted the woman who raised her, the woman admitted she was actually Melissa and said she had purchased her in 1972 for $500.

Melanie has reunited with her searching family. It's unclear how she came to be in the care of the woman who raised her, but police stated the statute of limitations for Melissa's kidnapping expired in 2007, so her abductor would probably not face criminal charges.

Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 7, 2022; case resolved.