A Texas toddler who went missing in the 70s has finally been reunited with her family 51 years later. KENS 5 reported that Melissa Highsmith's case was one of the oldest missing persons cases in the country.
In an interview with WFAA, Highsmith said, "I feel like I am daydreaming, and I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I'm awake."
The family said that a 23andMe DNA case linked the family members together. Alta Apantenco, Melissa's mother, said, "I'm just elated, I can't describe my feelings. I'm so happy to see my daughter that I didn't think I would ever see again."
KXAN reported that as a 21-month-old toddler, Highsmith was believed to be taken by her babysitter in 1971. Melissa's mother placed an ad in a newspaper looking for someone to care for the child. When the child was in the care of her mother's roommate, someone picked up the child. According to the roommate, the woman "seemed nice" and was "dressed to impress, wearing white gloves."
Highsmith said she had a hard time growing up. She said, "I didn't feel loved as a child. It was abusive, and I ran away at 15 years old. I went to the streets. I did what I had to do to get by."
Highsmith said that she plans on officially changing her name back to Melissa from Melanie.