"Little Girl Lost" by Jillian Venters
The Donna Messinger-Tofferdept “Little Girl Lost” mystery lingers to this day. In 1973, a young girl in a flannel nightgown was found crying in a Woolworth’s toy department in Anaconda, Montana. No one in the town recognized her.
Stating her name was Donna Messinger and that she was from Chicago, every attempt was made to reunite her with her family. However, not only was the Messinger family unable to be located, but the home address Donna gave was a deserted lot between two apartment buildings.
After a blaze of publicity, she was identified as Donna Tofferdept, who had gone missing two years earlier from her family home in Worland-Ten-Step, Wyoming. Donna did not recognize the Tofferdepts, and insisted that her real family were the ones pictured in the photo that was clutched in her hand when she was originally found.
While the photo did indeed show Donna, no one knew who the other three people were. Unable to accept the Tofferdepts as her family, Donna ran away from home when she was 14. She left a note saying that she had seen her brother, Butch, in a car going down the highway, and that she was determined to re-join her real family. The Tofferdepts, having no other children and blaming each other for Donna’s refusal to believe she was their daughter, divorced three years later.