The missing woman, known as Melissa Highsmith, was reported as having been seen last month by a tipper, according to a tweet from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US.
BREAKING NEWS: NCMEC has received an anonymous tip of a possible sighting of Melissa Highsmith in the #Charleston, #SouthCarolina area who has been missing for 51 years. Her photograph has been age-progressed to what she may look like today at 52.— National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (@MissingKids) September 8, 2022
On August 23, 1971, Melissa, who was only 21 months old, disappeared from Fort Worth, Texas. In Charleston, South Carolina, more than a thousand miles from where she vanished, she was allegedly seen.
John Bischoff, director of NCMEC's Missing Children Division, says it's uncommon to get tips about missing person cases that are older than ten years. It's not impossible, though, and the group is pleased that Melissa's case is still in progress despite the passage of time.
Bischoff told Fox News Digital, "At NCMEC, we will never forget about a missing kid, and we are happy to see that much of the community has not forgotten about Melissa either.
Bischoff called it "amazing" that the tipster still recognized Melissa despite the significant age difference between the middle-aged Melissa and the infant photo that was used to identify her.
According to NCMEC, Melissa was kidnapped by the babysitter her mother had hired to look over her.
Melissa's mother, who worked as a waitress at the time of her disappearance, had advertised in a neighborhood newspaper to find a babysitter for her little daughter. The woman who responded to the advertisement was to meet with Melissa's mother at the restaurant, but she never did.
Later, the woman called Melissa's mother and expressed her desire for the position. She then disclosed to her that she had a sizable yard and was also looking after other kids.
The hired babysitter arrived to pick up Melissa from their residence. The babysitter was described by the mother's roommate as "pleasant and was dressed to impress" while the mother was at work.
Melissa was not given back to her mother, therefore that was the last time she would see her.
NCMEC advised concerned residents who may have information to call them after reporting that the tipster observed Melissa in the vicinity of Daniel Island.