Melissa Highsmith continues to be just one of the oldest lacking folks instances in the country.
FORT Really worth, Texas — For his full daily life, Jeff Highsmith is consistently reminded of a day that happened nine many years right before he was even born.
It is a combination of heartbreak and hope handed down from his mom and father.
“Growing up as children, we normally understood about our sister who was kidnapped,” Highsmith stated. “My mothers and fathers terrified us to remain near and not operate off due to the fact we knew our sister was taken away from us.”
That sister, Melissa Highsmith, remains a person of the oldest missing people cases in the place and a mystery Jeff and his family members are still seeking to remedy.
On Aug. 23, 1971, their mom, Alta, marketed for a babysitter and spoke with a intended sitter by the identify of Ruth Johnson, who agreed to appear choose up the 21-thirty day period-old Melissa from the family’s apartment developing on East Seminary in Fort Well worth.
Since Alta had to be at get the job done, her roommate handed Melissa to Johnson, who was explained as effectively-dressed and wearing white gloves.
That night, Johnson in no way returned Melissa and could not be arrived at. Fort Worthy of police and the FBI have been quickly associated, but far more than 50 years later on, really few leads have surfaced.
Law enforcement at the time said they learned no proof Melissa was harmed and hoped Johnson or whoever experienced the child was having excellent care of her.
Jeff and his household have various theories about what could have transpired, which include the risk that Ruth Johnson was actually a male dressed as a lady.
“I pass by Seminary normally and each individual time I do, my mind just races,” Jeff claimed.
In an interview archived at the SMU Jones Film Library, Alta Highsmith spoke to WFAA in the times pursuing the kidnapping.
“I cannot give up hope. I have bought to see her again,” she explained. “I never know what to imagine.”
Alta would afterwards have Jeff and 3 of his sisters but lived her lifestyle with the discomfort, regret and guilt of acquiring her initial-born taken from her. Jeff had never ever seen the archived interview right until lately nevertheless nonetheless recognized his mother’s sadness.
“She seems the very same, her experience is the exact, her heartbreak is still the identical,” Highsmith claimed. “It hurts. I virtually preferred to commence crying. It hurts.”
But improvements this sort of as social media and DNA tests give hope to the Highsmith relatives that they continue to will obtain Melissa or she will obtain them.
They hope the Facebook webpage “Help Come across Melissa Highsmith” will arrive at females around the age of 50 who may possibly have concerns about the identification of their biological mothers and fathers. About the many years, a handful of gals have occur forth to be DNA examined, like a person who listened to the tale on the “Gone Cold” podcast.
And in 2005, Fort Value law enforcement reopened the situation the request of the household.
Even while none of the girls matched the family’s DNA profile, the probability features extra than a glimmer of hope and optimism. The additional they can retain notice and publicity on the circumstance alive, the bigger the chance a person recognizes a resemblance to Jeff’s three other sisters whom he claims share very similar facial functions.
“I believe that we are heading to discover her,” Jeff claimed. “It is my religion that sustains us and my faith that would make me consider she is alive and will be brought again to us.”
It can be a hope he has held his entire daily life and a person he would like for his mom additional than any one.
“My mother and father are 71 and 72 many years outdated,” Highsmith explained. “It is our aim to reunite our family ahead of they move on.”