On August 23, 1971, a mysterious, well-dressed woman wearing white gloves showed up at her Seminary Road apartment.
While Alta was asleep, the woman told the Apantenco’s roommate that she had “come to pick up the baby.” She took away Melissa, who was last seen wearing a pink dress and white sandals.
The Highsmith family continued to throw birthday parties for Melissa after her disappearance.
After years of searching for her long-lost daughter, 73-year-old Alta Apantenco said that she had nearly given up hope.
DNA testing finds a match
The Highsmith family hired a genealogist and had 23andMe DNA testing done that led them to the Fort Worth woman in 2022.
On Melissa’s 53rd birthday, a match for recently submitted DNA was returned.
The Ancestry service linked her biological father Jeffrie Highsmith’s sample to those of Melissa’s three children with her husband, John Brown.
On the weekend after Thanksgiving, Melissa was reunited with her parents. And two of her four siblings were also present.