|Larry in 2012. Now a firefighter in Texas|
A while after I met them, Becky got pregnant with Melissa. Right about that time, a guy talked to Robert about making some really good money at a construction job in New Jersey.
Becky lived with me and my dad for about 6 months in Texas, while Robert went to work in New Jersey.
Robert came back to Texas near the end of Becky's pregnancy, and he had found a house he wanted Melissa to grow up in once she was born. Just before Melissa's birth, Robert, Becky, and I moved up to the house in Lamberton, NJ. The woman, Wanda, and her husband were sharing the house too.
Wanda was a very different person. She always walked around with a unusually big smile on her face, and when she was upset she wouldn't say anything, her face would just get all red and she would puff out her cheeks. She was lots of times hard to understand when she spoke. I knew something was very wrong with her, and did not understand why her husband would be in a sexual relationship with her, when Wanda was clearly not mature enough to consent.
Her husband was a mean man. He would berate her, call her stupid, order her around like he was speaking to a dog. One time I told him he needed to shut his mouth, and treat his wife like a lady. He turned on me and started saying horrible things about my mother, who had died a few years before. We got into a very heated argument, because no one is allowed to insult my mother.
Wanda had been married twice, and I didn't find out until after Melissa was taken, that she had two other children with her first husband.
Wanda's husband at the time was named Robert, and her ex-husband was named Robert too. We had two Roberts living in the home. Wanda's husband Robert, and Becky's husband Robert.
Robert, me, and Robert all worked during the day at the construction job, and Becky stayed with Melissa, and helped Wanda take care of her son.
The night before Melissa was taken, we all went to a friends house down the street. There was a lot of laughing, talking, and playing cards. Becky brought a big puzzle that we all spent most of the evening putting together.
There were several small children there, and they spent the evening playing together, including Melissa. Wanda's son was still so young, that the other children did not take interest in him.
Somewhere during the night I noticed Wanda making the red and puffed face that she did when she was angry. She mumbled something in an angry tone at the children several times, while pointing to her baby, we kind of thing she was trying to tell them to play with him too. What ever it was, she was clearly very upset about it.
Near the end of the night, Wanda stomped out of the house, very mad.
The next morning I had slept in. Both of the Roberts had left to try to work. I woke to someone at the door. Before I had time to get to my feet, my ears blared at the sound of Becky screaming at the top of her lungs. She was hysterical.
The neighbor, Linda, and Linda's husband stood by Wanda at the door, with deep concern on their faces. Wanda said she had been walking with Melissa, and Melissa had been taken.
I immediately hopped in my truck, and raced down to the construction where I found both Roberts. I told Melissa's father something had happened to her. He looked horrified as he leaped into the truck, and we raced back to the house.
By the time we got to the house, police were swarming all around.
As soon as I got there, I was grabbed by the officers and interrogated for a very long period of the day, and accused of doing something to Melissa. They wanted an easy explanation, but there was none to be given. They put all there effort into getting me or Becky to confess to something, because we were the only three home with the children, they figured we must have known something. We had no idea where Melissa was.
Wanda had always taken Melissa out on walks. It was a regular thing. She was supposed to ask to take the babies out, and she always asked permission, always. Taking one of the kids for walks was part of Becky helping her to learn to take care of a child. This day she did not ask. She was out the door without a sound. It was normal for her to take Melissa, but not normal for her to go without asking. But before anyone had time to be worried, she had returned, after telling the neighbors Melissa had been kidnapped.
The police had concluded for years that Wanda threw Melissa into the river. But I believe there is no way she got to the river and back in the time she was gone. The walk one way to the river was at least 10 minutes.
There was nothing that made sense to me, until in 2012 the cold case detective asked me if I remembered the circumstances under which Wanda received the letter from her ex husband. This was the first I had ever heard about a letter.
The detective told me that in the initial search, officers found a letter in Wanda's possession, to Wanda, from her first husband, asking her to sell him her infant son for drugs. Apparently the letter mentioned how high demand babies under the age of 1 are on the black market.
I had just heard of a woman in the New Jersey/New York area who had been arrested for stealing babies and selling them. They said her crimes went back to the 80's.
After finding out about the letter, I am left to believe Melissa was sold instead of the baby boy.
Maybe the arrangement for the sale of a baby had already been planned? I do not believe Wanda had the intelligence to plan an abduction of the baby. But maybe something had already been in the works, and after her frustration the night before, she decided to use Melissa instead of the boy?