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The Kidnapping of Melissa Suzanne Highsmith


Agencies/Case Numbers: 

LE CASE NUMBER: 06014589
CONTACT NUMBER-817-335-4222
AGENCY CONTACT- 512-424-5074 OR 800-346-3243
NCMEC: 1037093
NAMUS: MP/UP #5505

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Websleuths Thread
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Lost In The Grey Tumblr


Melissa Suzanne Highsmith was last scene in Fort Worth on 08/23/1971. She was left in the company of an adult female who was suppose to babysit the 1 year old. Melissa's mother Alta Apantanco (Then Alta Highsmith) placed an ad in the Fort Worth Star Telegram the same month in need of a babysitter. She was recently divorced and worked as a waitress in a downtown restaurant.  A woman who answered the ad used the name "Ruth Johnson". She informed Alta that she had a large backyard and house. And she also babysat other kids. She made plans to meet Alta at her job for an interview but never showed up. "Ruth Johnson" later called her back and stated she really did want the job. However nothing I have read has ever gave a reason as to why she never showed up in person for the interview. I'm assuming she gave Alta a reason. But I have found no elaboration on this aspect of the case. She convinced Alta via a phone interview that she really wanted the job. Alta agreed that "Ruth Johnson" could pick up Suzanne on Monday morning at her apartment at the Spanish Gate Apartment Complex. (East Seminary Drive) Alta was already at work at the time "Ruth Johnson" showed up. (Some newspapers reported that Alta was at home but asleep at the time. I contacted one of Alta's daughters and she verified for me that her mother was at work at the time.)Melissa was being babysat by Alta's niece at the time (Who was also Alta's roommate). Alta's roommate would later tell the police that the woman seemed nice and was "dressed to impress". She apparently wore white gloves as well. (Not uncommon for the time. Even with the humid weather in the Dallas area.) Alta's roommate handed the woman a pink dress, a pair of white sandals, and some diapers for Melissa and "Ruth Johnson" left with Suzanne. Alta returned from work later that day and waited for "Ruth Johnson" to return with Melissa. She never did. Apparently no contact information for "Ruth Johnson" was given to Alta according to reports. Nor was an address as to where this "Ruth Johnson" lived. By 8pm Alta contacted the police. Within a week the FBI also joined in the search for Melissa. Melissa has never been found. Police believe the name the abductor used was an alias. Police believe she may have been a lonely woman wanting a child. The case was reopened in 2006 at the request of her sister. Still no breaks in the case have came.


(Who the hell did they hire to do this police sketch Helen Keller????)
Suspect described as 5'8 and between 130 and 140 lbs. Hair was brown but graying.

NOTE: Numerous websites have stated that the roommate said "Ruth Johnson" may have been a man dressed in woman's clothing. I have not seen that in a single article that I have read. And I have read around 50. Not sure where that came from. There may be an article I missed. But I find it suspect that I've read that many and none have repeated that claim. For now I'm calling BULLSHIT.

Spanish Gate Apartments

ARTICLES: I clipped some articles and wrote the dates down on some. And others I didn't. Apologies in advance.

The Waxahachie Daily Light-8/25/71
                                                          The Brownsville Herald 8/25/71
                                         The Odessa American 8/26/71
                                                  Pampa Daily News 8/26/71
                                                 The Longview News Journal 8/28/71



 Obviously Alta made a mistake. But I do not believe her to have had anything to do with Melissa's disappearance. Like I stated earlier she was a recently divorced single mom who was working and trying to make it. I just hope and pray that whoever took Melissa took care of her and she has a new identity. And she grew up healthy and in a loved environment. Even if she did. Whoever did this is sick. I can't imagine the pain this family has had to endure over the years. Looks as if Alta and Melissa's father divorced. Then remarried and had more kids. And since divorced again. It's crazy that even with the assistance of the FBI nothing came of this case. I have no clue how the "Man in Drag" detail was added into the case info. I usually only see this in forums. Sites like the Charley Project and others don't have it in the case info.


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