Mouse over to enlarge.The two images on the right are age-progressed to 35 and 41 years.
Name: Melissa Alaniz
Case Classification: Endangered Missing
Missing Since: March 07, 1987
Location Last Seen: El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Date of Birth: March 17, 1974
Age: 12 years old
Weight: 100 - 106 lbs.
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Distinguishing Marks/Features: Unknown
Fingerprints: Not Available
Clothing: a black t-shirt with an "Iron Maiden" logo, black and white checkered jeans, white socks that had either a blue or red stripe around the top and white tennis shoes.
Additional Personal Items: Unknown
Alaniz was last seen when she left her residence to walk to a nearby convenience store. Her relatives initially told police that she was last seen walking from her home to a Circle K convenience store off Rushing Drive to play video games.
Her disappearance may be linked to the disappearances of several other young females from El Paso that same year. Most of the young missing females were later found murdered and buried in the desert. Alaniz knew at least one of them, a classmate with whom she had friends in common. She lived in the same neighborhood as several of the victims and her parents worked with the parents of another victim. Alaniz and two other girls, Majorie Knox, 14, who vanished on February 14, 1987, from nearby Chaparral, New Mexico, and Cheryl Vasquez-Dismukes, are still missing and presumed dead by authorities.
Police have identified a suspect in the case, David Leonard Wood, an ex-convict with a history of violence against females who was paroled in January 1987 just a few days before the beginning of this string of murders and disappearances. He has been convicted of murdering six of the El Paso victims, though he maintains his innocence to this day. He was sentenced to death in 1993, but his sentence remains under appeal, as his lawyers allege he is mentally retarded. He matches the description of the man one victim was last seen with, was seen riding a motorcycle with another months before she died and witnesses have placed him at the convience store Cheryl Vasquez was last seen at. He has not been charged in connection with Alaniz's case and it's unclear whether he was involved.
Two weeks before Alaniz vanished, she ran away from home after a family argument. She returned after two days, however, and authorities don't believe she left on her own accord when she vanished in March 1987. She has not been seen nor heard from since.
Agency Name: El Paso Police Department
Agency Contact Person: Detective Michael Aman
Agency Phone Number: (915)-832-4445
Agency E-Mail: N/A
Agency Case Number: 0418080N
NCIC Case Number: Unknown
NamUs Case Number: 2782
El Paso Times
North American Missing Persons Network
Added: 7/13/2007; Last Updated: 7/15/2017
Questions or comments? Please contact appropriate member of the Area Team
** Listed information is from the time of disappearance.