In early 1987 Robert Mcguinn moved with his pregnant wife Becky, and his co-worker Robert Ashley and co-worker's partner Wanda Reed, to 637 Lamberton St, Trenton, New Jersey. The two men had found work, and the company moved them into a complex together with their families.
August 3, 1987 baby Melissa Diane McGuinn was born. 5 months later, Wanda gave birth to a son.
The McGuinn's could tell Wanda was behind developmentally, and thought she had some sort of learning disability. Becky was happy to help teach Wanda how to be a first time mother.
March 5, 1988 Baby Melissa was now 7 months old. She was crawling, and pulling herself up to try and walk on her own. Melissa was a very smart little girl, who was already speaking several words. "Up" "Down" "Hi" "Mum" "Da(dad)" "Ya(yes)"
Wanda's baby boy was now 2 months old, and seemed to be doing well with Becky's coaching on how to raise the boy.
This little boy found Wanda's sleeping 2 month old baby understandably boring. Wanda was offended that this little boy did not find her son as fun as Melissa.
Becky went about getting ready for the day, when Wanda asked to take Melissa and her own son down to the day room. It was a daily routine and Becky permitted it.
Becky was getting ready for the day when she heard a struggle down stairs. It was her neighbors and Wanda struggling to get the front door open because the sleeping bag was in the way.
Becky saw Wanda standing there with a neighbor....without Melissa.
|Side street where Wanda was seen walking with Melissa|
What Wanda answered would turn Robert and Becky's happy world upside down.
"A black man pushed me down and grabbed her, then ran away."
Word would spread quickly, that the little blue eyed blonde 7 month old had been kidnapped. But the McGuinn's heart ache would only worsen when Wanda was taken in for questioning. Her story kept changing.
"I sold her for drug money to a black man in a red car." "I was mad that people liked Melissa more at the party, so I threw her into the Delaware River." "She was in my lap sitting by a creek. She leaned over and fell in and drowned." "I traded her for drugs to the neighbor lady."
Each story was investigated, and none of them seemed to pan out. No one saw a red car, the walk to the river and creek took much longer than the time Wanda was gone, and the neighbor lady was questioned several times and police could find no blame on her. The only thing that seems possible, is either that Melissa was stashed away somewhere in the neighborhood, or Wanda had a planned meeting with someone who quickly got away with the baby.
Wanda Reed was arrested and charged with kidnapping. Every time she was asked what happened to Melissa, her story changed. Psychologists were brought in, and it was then Robert and Becky found out just how wrong they were about the woman who lived with them.
|Composite of Melissa at age 16|
Psychics would call with different visions of where Melissa was, and even those tips were investigated, but still, there was no sign of where on earth baby Melissa McGuinn was.
7 grueling weeks passed, with no clue where Melissa had gone. Becky sank into such a deep depression, that she became suicidal and had to be hospitalized. During her hospital stay, she found out that she had been pregnant since shortly before Melissa's kidnapping.
Becky would go the entire pregnancy with no sign of the whereabouts of her baby girl. Becky would give birth to a son, still not knowing where her daughter was. Becky's son would graduate high school, never knowing his older sister.
Because of the psychologists diagnosis of Wanda, she was deemed unfit to stand trial. Shortly after, all charges were dropped, and Wanda became a free woman. Her infant son was adopted by a family in Texas, and she and her husband broke up, and Wanda moved out of state...a free woman.
In 2012 a woman in the Netherlands contacted Melissa's mom saying she was their daughter. She shared detailed information about the case and even described the outfit Melissa was wearing and claimed she still had the outfit. Mom, Becky, had a DNA test done. Results came back negative.
"When we got the results, I told myself I had been dealing with this for 25years, I could deal with it if it wasn't her. But then when I heard negative...I couldn't deal with it. I fell apart."
After the experience with the Netherlands woman, the Cold Cases unit took over the investigation. They took new DNA samples from Melissa's family, and made a composite sketch of what Melissa may look like at 25, from Becky, and from Robert's daughter from another marriage.