Abducted Toddler Reunited With Family 51 Years Later

Perhaps you’ve seen the viral video of the Highsmith family reuniting with their long-lost daughter, Melissa, over Thanksgiving. The family calls it their Christmas miracle.

Melissa Highsmith was just 22 months old when her babysitter abducted her. Melissa’s mother, Alta Apantenco, was a single mother at the time. She was working full-time to provide for herself and Melissa, and Alta needed a babysitter. Alta contacted a babysitter she had never met to watch Melissa, and Alta was at work when the unthinkable happened.

Alta’s roommate answered the door for the babysitter, who took Melissa and disappeared.

Distraught, Alta filed a missing person report with the police, but shockingly, the police stated they hoped whoever had Melissa was taking good care of her. Unfortunately, Melissa reports that she grew up in a very abusive home, and she ran away to “work on the streets” at age fifteen.

Alta and her family never gave up looking for Melissa. Finally, 51 years later, DNA testing led the family back together.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Melissa–who currently goes by Melanie Brown–could hug all her family: her father, mother, and siblings. They are all overwhelmed with joy. Melanie is considering changing her name back to Melissa.

Astoundingly, Melissa grew up just 10 minutes from the apartment where she was taken.

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