Texas Woman Who Was Kidnapped By Babysitter When She Was 22-Months Old Is Reunited With Her Family 51 Years Later Through DNA Match

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A woman who family members believe was the toddler kidnapped by a babysitter 51 years ago has been reunited with her family in Texas, in a meeting filled with long-overdue hugs & joyful tears.

Melissa Highsmith was 22 months old when she was abducted by a purported babysitter in 1971.  She lived in Fort Worth most of her life & is now known as Melanie Brown. They say she didn’t know she was kidnapped until her biological father, Jeffrie Highsmith, submitted DNA to 23andMe & learned that he was a match to Brown’s children.

The family said in a news release that they worked with an amateur genealogist to help interpret the DNA results & mine public records to find Melissa, who reunited with her parents & 2 of her siblings this past weekend in Fort Worth.

“It was just a mixture of joy & terrifying. Being terrified & excited & just trying to understand, you know, make sense of everything,” Melissa Highsmith told KDFW-TV. A woman who sent out a news release on behalf of the family said that at this time, Melanie Brown is planning to change her name back to Melissa.

In a statement Monday, the Fort Worth Police Department said it was “overjoyed” to hear that 23andMe led the Highsmiths to Melissa & added they will conduct official DNA testing to confirm her identity & will provide an update once those official results are in. The investigation into her kidnapping will continue.

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