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DOZENS of murders and crimes have occurred on Thanksgiving over the years from eerie student deaths in libraries to a woman who cooked parts of her husband.

The family-focused holiday has proven, for some, to be a breaking point.

3Betsy Aardsma was killed on the Penn State University campus in 1969Credit: Pennsylvania State Police 3Omaima Aree Nelson killed her husband on November 28, 1991Credit: Oxygen 3Brenda Gee Knight disappeared during Thanksgiving week in 2000Credit: Family Handout Betsy Aardsma

The shocking death of Pennsylvania State University student Betsy Aardsma remains unsolved more than five decades later.

Aardsma was stabbed to death inside the Pattee Library on the school's campus on November 28, 1969.

The 22-year-old Michigan native had celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with her boyfriend before returning to the campus early.

She and her roommate, Sharon, walked to the library in the afternoon.

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Then, at around 4.45pm, witnesses said they heard books falling, according to NBC News.

Aardsma was discovered under a pile of books.

Campus security was called to the scene to take her to the student hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Pennsylvania State Trooper Mike Simmers recalled responding to the scene.

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“When I got the call that day… it was for a medical emergency,” Simmers told Dateline.

“It was believed she had fainted, or had a seizure. I had no idea it was murder. No one did.”

An autopsy revealed that Aardsma had been stabbed once in her left breast.

The wound hit her pulmonary artery.

Blood entered her lungs which prevented her from being able to scream for help.

Simmers, who learned that the death was a homicide at the hospital, said that by the time he returned to the campus library with other officials, the scene had been cleaned up.

Students had returned to business as usual.

“We had a couple of people who we believed could be the suspect,” Simmers said.

“But there was never enough evidence to make any arrests.”

Omaima Aree Nelson

Omaima Aree Nelson, 24, was an Egyptian nanny and model who met her husband, William E. "Bill" Nelson, a 56-year-old pilot, in October 1991.

The two were married within a month of meeting.

But their union didn't last long.

Nelson claimed that her husband sexually abused her, which led to her alleged assault on him on November 28, 1991.

She allegedly killed Bill using a clothes iron and by stabbing him with scissors.

But Nelson didn't stop there.

She allegedly skinned his torso and cut off his genitalia before cooking his head and frying his hands.

Nelson then mixed the man's remains with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and discarded it all.

She was arrested after offering a friend $75,000 to help her dispose of the evidence.

"If I didn't defend my life, I would have been dead," Nelson said in court.

"I'm sorry it happened, but I'm glad I lived. I'm sorry I dismembered him."

Nelson never provided a reason for cooking her husband.

She was convicted of second-degree murder in January 1993 and remains behind bars.

Brenda Gee Knight

Hairstylist Brenda Gee Knight was last seen alive during Thanksgiving week in 2000.

Knight was 34 and had three daughters when she disappeared.

Her remains were discovered in June 2001 but weren't positively identified until her daughter submitted a DNA sample about a decade later.

"She was well known; she was a good person," her daughter, Diamond Johnston, told WTVR.

"That hurts a lot to know that my mom wasn't there for the birth of my kids. I graduated from high school, you name it, all the big accomplishments that I did.

"She will not be forgotten. I'm going to figure it out. I figured out who she was when she was a Jane Doe. And I'm going to figure out who killed her."

Johnston began searching for her mother publicly in 2011.

The DNA match provided a link, matching Knight to a set of missing remains referred to only as "Mattaponi River lady" to that point.

22 years later, her case remains unsolved.

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"It's our opinion that if this is where she was put into the river that she was likely with the least expenditure of energy by the person who dumped her would likely have just tossed her over the side of the bridge into the water," Angela Witt, the Virginia State Police Agent working on the case, said.

"But it's documented that there had been several flooding events that had occurred. In the recent months leading up to the discovery, we do have a belief that the person who dumped the body probably had some knowledge of that roadway in that area."

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Tags: thanksgiving crime thanksgiving i’m going to figure ’m going to figure during thanksgiving week i’m going i’m sorry by manager’ ’m going ’killed ’m sorry stabbed to death pennsylvania state state university remains unsolved she allegedly where she to the campus her daughter state police to the scene returned her husband on november

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EXCLUSIVE: Texas woman abducted 51 years ago and finally reunited with her family reveals her horrid childhood was sexually abused at the hands of her stepfather

The Texas woman that was abducted 51 years ago by the babysitter shared her horrific childhood and the sexual abuse she endured by her stepfather before she became a teen runaway living on the streets to survive, DailyMail.com can now reveal.

Melissa Highsmith now 53 was miraculously reunited with her biological parents - Jeffrie Higshmith, 72; Alta Alpantenco, 73 and siblings - Rebecca Del Bosque, 48; Vicitoria Highsmith, 47; Sharon Highsmith, 45 and Jeffrey Highsmith, 42 - on November 26- five decades after she was abducted in 1971 when she was only 22 months old.

As her family spent decades looking for their family member, Melissa whose nam was changed to Melanie was barely surviving.

She shared with DailyMail.com some of the hardship and horror she endured at the hands of the woman she thought was her mother and her stepfather - having no idea she was adopted until a week ago - and had this giant family searching for her.

'I thought she was my real mom but I thought she regretted having me. There was no closeness... no love. She told me all of my life I was brain damaged and I was mentally retarded,' she said. 

Melissa she when she was a child her mother had put her in special classes despite her teachers telling her that she did not belong in them. She said that her two other siblings, a younger and older brother, had lived with her too. She recalled her older brother, who she said she wasn't close too, getting treated differently than she and her younger brother.

 'My dad was very abusive to us. My little brother ended up moving in with my grandma and then it was just me and my stepfather,' she said. 'My mother was emotionally abusive and my stepfather was sexually abusive.'

She told DailyMail.com that she never got pregnant and when she was 15 years old, she ran away from home.

Melissa and her birth mother are overjoyed that they have found one after 51 years now they plan to spend the rest of their lives getting to know each other again  

Melissa meets her parents- her dad Jeffrie Highsmith, 72 and mother Alta Altanpanco, 73 for the first time since she was kidnapped in August 1971 when she was 22 months old 

A black and white composite sketch of the babysitter from the 1970s - identified as Ruth Johnson. The mother's roommate, who handed baby Melissa to the babysitter told the authorities she was wearing a bonnet and white gloves

'I tried to runaway when I was 14, but it was unsuccessful. I didn't have nowhere to go so it was easy for them to track me but the second time I had somewhere to go. When they found me the police came to get me and I told them I wasn't going back so I never went back.'  

She and her high school sweetheart, she described as her 'first love,' married and the pair had a rough time of it and were living on and off the streets.   

She was arrested at least four times and charged with misdemeanors related to prostitution, according to Texas records, The Washington Post reported. 

'I did things I didn't want to do,' she said,  'but I supported me and my husband.' 

By the time she was 19, she was a mother of three but, said her children were taken away from her and put up for adoption- two boys and a girl.  She said she had her tubes tied after that and was no longer able to have children.

After leaving her first husband she started working in a host of different jobs from working at a bar, to a few fast food joints, and waitressing to support herself. 

She married again. Her husband, she said, was in and out of prison most of the time. They were together for 16 years and she finally left him because of his addiction.  

Eventually, Melissa found love again with a new man. She said they had a 'good marriage,' and were together for ten years but it ended, she said, after he fell into addiction

'I couldn't go down the walk he was walking so I chose to go another path,' she said. 

Undated photos of Melissa from the time she was a child to a teen and as a young woman 

A photo of Melissa with her younger sibling. It is not clear if the adult in the picture is the woman that Melissa claimed was the person she called 'mama' most of her life and the one who abducted her 

During this period, she became more religious and relied on her faith to get her through and started cleaning churches and eventually people's homes to earn some income. A job that she proudly says, she still does today.

 'I had PTSD from things that happened in my past so I couldn't really work around a lot of crowds so I started the cleaning business so I could do one-on-one which was easier for me.'

'It keeps me busy. I do like tow or three jobs a day,' she said. 

In April 2022, Melissa found her soul mate, a man she had met in church, John Brown. The couple wed in April.

On November 27, Brown posted on Facebook the emotional reunion that took place when  Melissa met her birth mother for the first time.

 'This is my beautiful wife Melissa Brown meeting her mother for the first time in 51 years,' he wrote.

In the video, the pair embrace and sob in each other's arms.

'I have seen all the pictures of when we were young,' Melissa says.

Her mother removes her sunglasses to get a better look of her long lost daughter, and responds:   'I used to be young and beautiful. I changed getting old,' she said, 'And missed all these years with you. Maybe we can get to know eachother better.'

Melissa asks: You live in Forth Worth?'

'I live in Forth Worth,' her mother says. 'Seventeen minutes away from you.  

 During the tear-jerking meeting she also met her father and one of her cousins who she learned was named Melissa after her.

In April 2022, Melissa found her soul mate, a man she had met in church, John Brown. The couple wed in April

Melissa hugging her dad for the first time as her mother overcome with emotion looks ahead

The Facebook post the family sent out when Melissa was 'found.' The image shows Alta, as a young mom holding a photo the newspaper story that ran when her daughter went missing 

Melissa pictured with her baby brother, Jeffrey, 42, who has been searching for his big sister most of his life 

Melissa (left) and another sibling Victoria Highsmith (right). Both siblings have their own cleaning businesses and both love to donate to charity 

Rebeca told DailyMail.com how she joined websleuth and was always trying to find Melissa and between 2005 and 2007 thought she came close but was heartbroken when she learned after a DNA test that the person she thought maybe her sister wasn't, after all.

'When the DNA came back and it wasn't our sister it was pretty devastating because I had built a connection with her,' Rebecca said. 'I just couldn't put myself in my heart out like that and then I didn't do a lot.'

Her brother Jeff and sister-in-law created a Facebook page and started their own investigation.

In September 2022, everything changed when Rebecca and Sharon learned that their had been a possible sighting in Charleston, South Carolina of the their sister. That lead, although it didn't go anywhere, gave the family renewed hope.       

Melissa Highsmith (pictured) was kidnapped by a babysitter in 1971 at just 22-months-old

The Missing person flyer the family distributed when Melissa was missing 

A picture of baby Melissa and a computer-generated photo of what Melissa that was created 

Jeff told DailyMail.com in a prior interview that said his mother was only 20 when his sister was abducted. He said his father, Jeffrie, who was 19 years old, left his mother and ran off with another woman. He said, his parents eventually reunited and got remarried. Melissa's disappearance had brought them together.  

After Melissa's abduction, Jeff says their parents went onto have more children - four in total. His three other siblings - all sisters - all live in different parts of the country, Spain, Chicago and Forth Worth, Texas. 

In an emotional clip filmed on Thanksgiving, Melissa was seen hugging her mother and father for the first time in over 50 years - as the parents embraced their beloved long-lost daughter.

Her family would celebrate Melissa's birthday each year without her. During the last birthday they spent without her, Melissa's father told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: 'We are looking for her and still care.'

Later that day the family uncovered a lead that would unify them with her just weeks later, after decades of agony.

It was brought about by a DNA test and detective work by Lisa Jo Schiele, a clinical laboratory scientist and amateur genealogist who encouraged the family to try a 23andMe DNA test.

Melissa's father submitted a DNA sample to 23andMe, which returned a 100 percent match with three people. Those three people were the children of Joe Brown and his wife Melanie - one of which was Melissa.

'It's overwhelming and incredible to me,' said Sharon Highsmith, Melissa's younger sister.

'For decades, my parents have chased leads, hiring their own labs and investigators and yet, these DNA tests, which are available to anyone, helped us find our lost loved one.'

Melissa said she would be changing her name officially to reflect the one she was given at birth. 

'Now that we have Melissa home all of us are going to be together - the grandkids the great grandkids, the great nephews,' he said. 'We haven't all been together in 20 years.' 

Melissa went missing on August 23, 1971. Her mother Alta Apantenco, who had recently separated from her father, desperately needed a babysitter to care for Melissa while she worked as a waitress. 

After putting up an advertisement in the local newspaper Apantenco eventually found someone to do the job.

During a brief phone call with a woman who identified herself as Ruth Johnson, Apantenco was assured by the babysitter that her child would be in good care.

The woman agreed to meet Apantenco at the restaurant she worked at, but never showed up. 

Then the potential babysitter called up again insisting she was right for the job.

'She said, you know, I really love kids and I've got this huge backyard and the kids love to play out there, and I was desperate, I needed a babysitter because I was supporting myself,' Apantenco told Fox4 in 2019.

She left Melissa in the care of a roommate with whom she was living in the Spanish Gate Apartments on East Seminary Drive in Fort Worth, who then handed Melissa over to the unknown babysitter.

Melissa was never seen again by anyone that knew her until earlier this month. 

'My mom did the best she could with the limited resources she had. She couldn't risk getting fired. So, she trusted the person who said they'd care for her child,' Sharon Highsmith, Melissa's sister said.

'For 50 years, my mom has lived with the guilt of losing Melissa. She's also lived with community and nationwide accusations that she hurt or killed her own baby. 

'I'm so glad we have Melissa back. I'm also grateful we have vindication for my mom.'

Sharon now lives in Spain and although she has never met Melissa she is looking forward to doing so this Christmas. 

Jeff said that the Forth Worth Police Department, Tarrant County and the FBI were looking at his mother in connection with his sister's disappearance.

'The police never took the investigation off of my mom. They always thought my mom had something to do with it and they didn't pursue anything else.'

'I didn't understand. There was no justification. It was frustrating,' he said. 'From what I was told, in 1971 it was a different time for women. It was a time when Roe vs. Wade and the women's movement and women weren't treated as equal as me

Earlier this year in October the family were lead to Charleston, South Carolina to investigate a tip that Melissa had been seen there.  

She was identified based on a computer generated prediction of what Melissa would look like fifty years on from her baby photos.

When the family got there they were faced with disappointment. That's when the they stared thinking about DNA tests and were connected with her children.

'We had coffee with her on Thanksgiving night, and when I looked at her, I just knew. I knew,' Jeff Highsmith said, adding later that he 'couldn't take' his eyes off her when they met because she looked 'just like' his mother, he told Fox.

'Our family has suffered at the hands of agencies who have mismanaged this case,' Sharon said.

'Right now, we just want to get to know Melissa, welcome her to the family and make up for 50 years of lost time.'

Sharon, her siblings and their parents encouraged other families with missing loved ones to keep on believing.

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