She was just 21-months-old.
Her family never stopped searching for her, but their search is now over thanks to an at-home DNA test kit.
Family members were shocked when they opened the results of a “23 and Me” DNA test and found they had matched with Melissa’s children.
According to a Facebook post from a family member, Melissa met with her father and mother for the first time on Saturday.
“DNA wins this search,” the post said.
“Mom and Dad met Mel for the first time yesterday, after 51 years and did further official and legal DNA testing.
“Athough in the moment we saw her pictures, found out about her birthmark, and realised her ‘birthday’ is so close to our Melissa, we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was our girl.”
Melissa was still living in Fort Worth, about 10 minutes from where she was abducted.
She currently goes by the name Melanie but is seeking to change her name back to Melissa.
Melissa was abducted after her recently-separated mother Alta placed an advertisement in the newspaper for a babysitter.
She needed help to watch over her baby as she worked as a waitress.
Alta hired a woman who responded to the ad.
She told authorities the woman picked up Melissa, who was in the care of her roommate, while she was at work.
She called law enforcement to report Melissa missing the day she vanished.
Melissa’s brother Jeff said he was told the babysitter was wearing white gloves, sunglasses and a bonnet around her head in the middle of August.
The family have asked for privacy as they process the “exciting news” of Melissa’s return.