Melissa Diane McGuinn
Case #: (NCMEC) 708328
On March 6, 1988, 7 month old Melissa Diane Mcguinn was last seen at 637 Lamberton Street in Trenton, New Jersey, in the care of Wanda Faye Reed, a 30 year old mentally disabled woman that functions at a level of a 4 to 7 year old child.
(Photo of Wanda Faye Reed)
She was a friend and roommate of Melissa’s parents, and had asked permission to take the baby to the downstairs area of the house they shared at the time. Melissa’s mother, Rebecca, consented so she could smoke a cigarette in her bedroom, and Wanda walked away with the baby. 8 minutes later, Wanda returned upstairs with a neighbor, and Melissa was gone. She has never been seen again.
Melissa was last seen wearing white flowered quilted overalls, a dark pink hooded sweater and pink socks. She has strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. At the time she was 28 inches tall and 16 lbs.
Rebecca and her husband Robert McGuinn shared a row house with Wanda and her partner and their infant son. The two young mothers grew close. They shared housekeeping chores and fell into a routine of watching each others babies.
Rebecca stated, “Every morning Wanda would come into my room, she would get Melissa and she would take her downstairs and play with her in the living room.” So she was not concerned on the morning of March 6th, when Wanda took the baby downstairs. But minutes later, Rebecca said she heard a commotion outside and became alarmed. She was not aware that the baby had been brought out to the street. As Wanda enters the home with a neighbor, Rebecca asks “is Melissa with you?” Wanda replied, “No, she’s gone.” The distraught mother ran outside immediately but the child was nowhere to be found.
Wanda told several conflicting stories explaining Melissa’s disappearance. First, she claimed an unidentified African-American man jumped out of a car, knocked her down and took Melissa. When pressed for details, the description of the vehicle the man was driving had changed. She later said instead that she dropped or threw the baby into the Delaware River a few blocks from their home. A third story implicated the neighbor woman who accompanied Wanda back home that day; Wanda said that she gave the baby to the woman in exchange for $200 worth of drugs.
An extensive search of the Delaware River turned up no sign of Melissa, and it had been discussed that it would have been difficult for Wanda to have walked the distance there and back within the 8 minute time frame. The neighbor whom Wanda claimed had bought Melissa denied having anything to do with the baby’s disappearance, and was cooperative with the investigation, as were Melissa’s parents.
There was a theory that Wanda harmed the baby because she was jealous. The night before Melissa’s disappearance, there was a party at the house and the guests paid attention to Melissa while ignoring Wanda’s 2 month old son, Jimmy. Wanda allegedly had two other children who had been placed for adoption sometime prior to 1988.
2 days after Melissa went missing, Wanda was charged with kidnapping. There was no physical evidence, and she was found incompetent to stand trial and the charges were dropped in December of 1989. Wanda was then sent to live in a facility for mentally disabled individuals. She now lives with relatives in Louisiana.
Melissa’s family moved to Arkansas after her disappearance. Her father passed away in 2008, but her mother and two brothers are still alive. Rebecca traveled to New Jersey in 2011, took a polygraph about her daughter’s disappearance and passed, so she was ruled out as a suspect in the investigation.
In 2012, the “Time” Magazine featured a story that brought forward a possible match for Melissa in Iowa, an adopted girl of the right age who has no birth certificate. At this time, the State Police were seeking a DNA sample from her, to match to Melissa’s DNA from a blood sample taken at the hospital where she was born, but no other information has been brought forward since then.
(Rebecca, Melissa’s mother)
Melissa’s case remains unsolved.
If you have any further information, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or the Trenton Police Department of New Jersey at 1-609-989-4155.