Fort Worth police say they have finished official DNA testing that proves the woman is who she says she is. She was reunited with her family last year after being taken from them when she was a toddler more than 50 years ago.
Melissa Highsmith went missing in 1971. She was only 22 months old at the time, and it is said that a babysitter took her from her parents’ home in Fort Worth. After more than 50 years, Melissa’s family found her through DNA tests shared on genealogy websites.
The Fort Worth Police Department has been working to finish their DNA tests since Melissa was reunited with her family at the end of last year. On Thursday, they said that tests had proven Highsmith’s identity.
Police said in a statement Thursday afternoon, “We hope that this test result will bring the Highsmith family even more peace of mind.”
In November 2022, the Highsmith family told NBC 5 about their meeting again.
The family said that a genealogist told them to share their DNA with 23andMe and Ancestry to see if any matches were found. The family said their mother wasn’t sure because over the years she had DNA tests with six different women and all of the results were negative.
“Every time my mom got hopeful. She didn’t want to take another DNA test after 51 years. Her sister Victoria Highsmith said, “She was tired, hurt, and guilty from carrying this for so long.” “I’m glad we were able to get her to agree to give us her DNA…” We were able to find Melissa because of that and my dad’s agreement.
Victoria said that Melissa wasn’t found through her own DNA sample but through the DNA of her children. She also said that the match was made quickly after both of Melissa’s parents sent in their samples.
“We found my sister in three weeks.” “We found her like ‘Boom, boom, boom,'” Victoria Highsmith said.
Victoria also said she was thrilled that her mother can now feel like she was rightfully accused of Melissa’s disappearance when she had nothing to do with it.
“She has felt this pain and guilt for 51 years, and I have seen her cry for three days of happiness.” Vicky Highsmith said, “I’ve never seen my mom so happy.”
She said her life wasn’t good and that she had run away from home when she was 15. She also said for sure that she would be changing her name from Melanie to her real name.
Fort Worth police said they are still looking into the case and want anyone who knows anything to come forward.
“The criminal statute of limitations ran out 20 years after Melissa turned 18, but the Fort Worth Police Department Major Case Unit is still asking for help from the public if they know anything else about Melissa’s ki*dnapping, which happened more than 51 years ago.” “You can call 817-392-4439 to get in touch with our Major Case Unit,” police said.