Tip claims child kidnapped 51 years ago may have been spotted on Daniel Island

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Investigators are looking into an anonymous tip claiming the victim of a 1971 abduction in Texas may have been spotted in the Lowcountry.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said the tipster claimed to have seen Melissa Highsmith in the Daniel Island area.

Highsmith was 21 months old on Aug. 23, 1971, when she was abducted by someone claiming to be a babysitter, center spokesperson Patti Davis said. Highsmith and her 22-year-old mother had recently moved to the area. Her mother, recently separated and working as a waitress, placed a newspaper ad for child care.

Investigators say a woman answered the ad and agreed to meet at the restaurant but the woman never showed.

They say the babysitter called the mother later, saying she really wanted the job, had a nice big yard and cared for other children.

Authorities said the mother hired the woman, who picked the child up from the mother’s roommate at their apartment while the mother was at work.

The woman told investigators her roommate said the woman who seemed nice and was dressed to impress, wearing white gloves. But when the babysitter did not return the child, the child’s mother called law enforcement.

The center released a photo of Highsmith as she looked at the time of her abduction and an age-progressed photo showing how she would look today.

Anyone who sees her or thinks they may know where she is should call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST.