Cleveland rescue gives woman hope of finding missing daughter - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Cleveland rescue gives woman hope of finding missing daughter

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Melissa, 5 years old, went missing December 3, 1989. Melissa, 5 years old, went missing December 3, 1989.
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

It's going to be a long road ahead for Amanda Berry, Georgina "Gina" DeJesus and Michelle Knight and their families as they adjust to their new life and surroundings. While this story ended with families being reunited, that's not always the case.

One woman in the Tennessee Valley is still dealing with a kidnapping nightmare.

Tammy Brannen said she will never forget the Virginia Christmas party she attended December 3, 1989.  That's the night she saw her 5-year-old daughter Melissa for the last time.

"I was standing by the front door," she said.  "I went to hug some people while Melissa went to get some potato chips from a nearby table.  I turned around and she wasn't there. Her body has never been found, she's never been found."

Brannen continues to fight for her daughter with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She said the story in Cleveland has reminded her to continue her fight. 

"The fact that three girls were found 10 years later is pretty much a miracle in itself," Brannen said.  "It just highlights that you never need to give up. You can't help sitting in my situation to have a little bit of hope and wonder, maybe she's out there."

Former counselor Dr. Gail Gibson said that the girls have a long road ahead to get back to normal.  

"They must soon begin the struggle, the journey that will include confronting, analyzing and acknowledging their own emotions, and that's the hard part," she said.  "There's a lot of guilt, a lot of grief, a lot of anger so they'll need to work with that, but I do believe that people become acclimated." 

As three families celebrate the ending of a decade long nightmare, one woman continues to hold out hope for closure.

"I've never been able to put it to rest," Brannen said.  "I am celebrating the joy of these families that they have to have." 

Caleb Hughes was charged with kidnapping with intent to defile for Melissa's disappearance. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

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