Could a digital billboard campaign help find Missy Witt’s murderer nearly 30 years later?
Melissa Witt was a hardworking and ambitious, 19-year-old college student. Also known as Missy, she was an honors student at Westark Community College in Fort Smith, Arkansas where she lived with her mother, Mary Ann. Missy kept very busy with classes and her part-time job at a local dental clinic where she worked as a dental assistant. Her friends say she was friendly, kind-hearted, and a hard worker, which would serve her well as she dreamed of and was working toward her goal of becoming a dental hygienist.
The day Missy went missing
December 1, 1994, was a typical day for Missy. But as she got ready to go to campus for class, she had a small disagreement with her Mom after asking her if she could borrow money. Her mother said no and before she left the house, she left Missy a note explaining that she loved her and that she would be at a local bowling alley later that afternoon if she wanted to come by and get something to eat.
Between 6:30-7 pm, after class and work, Missy went to the same bowling alley that her mother had mentioned in her note. She parked her car, and before she would even make it inside the bowling alley, investigators believe Missy was abducted from the parking lot. They made this determination based on evidence of a struggle around her car, including blood found in the parking lot, as well as Missy's keys and an earring found nearby.
When she was discovered
Six weeks after the abduction, two hunters in the Ozark National Forest discovered Missy's body on January 13, 1995—45 miles from her home in Fort Smith. Missy's body was nude and placed near a headstone-shaped rock. However, Missy's clothes and personal belongings were missing from the scene and were never found.
Larry Swearingen was looked at as a person of interest in this case. He was convicted of the murder of Melissa Trotter who was killed in a very similar manner as Missy. Both girls were 19 at the time of their death, and both were murdered and found in large forests in Arkansas. Furthermore, Swearingen was known to be in the area around the time Missy was abducted. Swearingen denied murdering Missy Witt and was executed on January 27, 2009, for Melissa Trotter's murder.
Where the case stands today
No one has been convicted of her murder, and there is currently a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for Missy's abduction and murder.
A documentary is being developed to cover Missy's case, and community advocates recently launched a billboard campaign to highlight her unsolved murder.
Anyone with information about the murder of Melissa Witt is urged to contact the Fort Smith Police Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (479)709-5100.