It’s a cold December day in Virginia and young Melissa Brannen is enjoying a Christmas party in a clubhouse filled with neighbors and friends. But while her mother is distracted for a few moments, the girl disappears. As a police investigation is launched, a mystery unfolds that will haunt Melissa’s family for decades to come.
Melissa was born on April 13, 1984, to Michael and Tammy Brannen. When the little girl was just three years old, though, her parents divorced. Although Melissa lived with Tammy, the girl remained close to Michael, who continued to visit.
In December 1989, Tammy and Melissa were living at the Woodside Apartments, a residential complex located close to the Fort Belvoir army installation in Lorton, Virginia. In order to support her daughter, Tammy wrestled with two jobs. During the week, she worked in accountancy, while the weekends saw her employed in a local jewelry shop.