Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Woman reunited with her parents 51 years after being abducted by nanny in Texas

Sharon Highsmith (Facebook)

Melissa Highsmith after being reunited with her birth parents in Texas.

a DNA test He succeeded in reuniting a Texas woman with her family 51 years after she was abducted by her paternal grandmother.

Melissa Highsmith, 53, was abducted by the woman who was supposed to be taking care of her in Fort Worth in 1971 when she was only 22 months old.

Years of searching by the family yielded no clue to his whereabouts Some DNA samples were sent to a company dedicated to genealogy. Made a match.

The woman and her parents met for the first time on 26 November. On Facebook, the family said they had conducted “more official and legal DNA tests” and were waiting for “official confirmation”.

The mystery surrounding Highsmith’s whereabouts began in August 1971, when her mother, Alta Apatenko, hired a nanny through an advertisement in a local newspaper.

The nanny, who was suspected of kidnapping the child, promised to take care of him at home. He went to get her, but did not return.

This led to a decades-long search by the Highsmith family, police and federal authorities.

As the search grew year after year, Highsmith, who called herself Melanie Walden, did not know that someone was looking for her.

The breakthrough in the case finally came on November 6, when a DNA test was performed on the 23AndMe website. Highsmith’s children reunited with their birth familiesWith the help of an amateur genealogist who helped them understand the results.

“Our discovery of Melissa was entirely due to DNA,” the family wrote in a Facebook post. “Not because of police or FBI involvement, podcast involvement, or even our family’s own personal investigation or speculation.”

Contacted by family members on Facebook, Highsmith initially thought it was a scam.

“The Most Wonderful Feeling in the World”

“It’s tremendous,” Highsmith told CBS, the US affiliate of the BBC. “But at the same time, it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world.”

Highsmith’s birth mother Apatenko said she “couldn’t believe” the family was reunited after so many years.

“I thought I’d never see her again”He added.

No information has been received about the kidnapper. According to Highsmith, when confronted, her foster woman, from whom she had been estranged for decades, admitted that she was the kidnapped girl.

“It became real,” Highsmith said.

Although the crime of kidnapping was long overdue, the Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement that it would continue to investigate the disappearance to reconstruct what happened.

Meanwhile, the family says they are Making up for lost time and getting to know each other.

Highsmith said she plans to change her name from Melanie to Melissa and renew her wedding vows with her current husband so that her biological father can walk her down the aisle.

“My heart is full and overflowing with emotion right now,” he told CBS. “I’m very, very happy”.


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