Melissa Witt

Melissa Witt was a 19-year-old college student who worked hard and wanted to do well. She was a top student at Westark Community College in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where she lived with her mom, Mary Ann. She was also known as “Missy.” Missy was very busy with school and her part-time job as a dental assistant at a nearby dental clinic. Her friends say she was friendly, kind, and a hard worker. These traits would help her reach her goal of becoming a dental hygienist, which she was working toward.

Melissa Witt

The day Missy Disappeared

The day of December 1, 1994 was typical for Missy. But as she was preparing to go to campus for class, she had a minor disagreement with her mother after asking for a loan. Her mother declined, 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 day if she wanted to grab a bite.

After class and work, between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, Missy went to the bowling alley her mother had mentioned in her note. Investigators believe Missy was abducted from the parking lot before she could even enter the bowling alley after she parked her vehicle. They reached this conclusion based on evidence of a struggle around Missy’s vehicle, including blood found in the parking lot and Missy’s keys and an earring discovered nearby.

When Melissa Witt was Discovered

Six weeks after her abduction, on January 13, 1995, two hunters discovered Missy’s body 45 miles from her home in Fort Smith in the Ozark National Forest. Missy’s naked body was placed next to a headstone-shaped rock. However, Missy’s clothing and personal belongings were nowhere to be found at the crime scene.

Melissa Witt

In this investigation, Larry Swearingen was considered a person of interest. He was found guilty of murdering Melissa Trotter, who was killed in a manner very similar to Missy’s. Both girls were 19 years old at the time of their murder and were discovered in large Arkansas forests. In addition, Swearingen was in the area around the time Missy was abducted. Swearingen denied murdering Missy Witt and was executed for the murder of Melissa Trotter on January 27, 2009.

Melissa Witt

Where the case stands today

There is currently a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for Missy’s abduction and murder, for which no one has been convicted.

Community advocates have recently launched a billboard campaign to draw attention to Missy’s unsolved murder, for which a documentary is currently in production.

Melissa Witt

Please contact the Fort Smith Police Department at or (479)709-5100 if you have any information about Melissa Witt’s murder.

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