Girl missing for 19 years, mother still hopeful
Vanessa Smith has been missing since 1997. She was last seen near her Winton, CA home.

In 1997, a Merced County girl went for a walk and never came home. Her family has been searching for her ever since and they are determined to not give up hope that she's still alive.

It was next to an almond orchard outside of Winton near her family's home where 15-year-old Vanessa Smith was going for an evening walk. That was 19-years ago and that was the last time anyone ever saw her.

Her mother Beverly Smith said, "She said mom I'm going to take my walk and I usually walked with her and checked on her and this one time I didn't."

Vanessa was last seen walking near an orchard behind her house.

Smith said, "Vanessa was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Since that day her mother has not given up hope that her daughter is still out there. She has even kept her room the way it was when she went missing.

She said, "We do want her home and we feel like she's out there. Everybody feels like she's out there."

The Applebee's in Atwater will have a pancake breakfast this Saturday morning from 8 to 10 a.m. Tickets for that are $10 each. Money raised from that will help go towards billboards to help Vanessa's family find her.

Vanessa Smith has been missing since May 31st, 1997.

She would be 34 today.

She has blonde hair and blue eyes.

There is a $50,000 reward for anyone who has information leading to her whereabouts.

If you can help call the Merced Major Crimes Unit at 209-385-7472

If you would like to donate to the fundraiser to pay for a billboard for the missing girl you can contact:

Travis Credit Union
981 Bellevue Rd.
Atwater, CA 95301

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