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What happened to 12-year-old Elyssa? New image released


The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is releasing a brand-new age progression image of Elyssa Vasquez and is hopeful it will be a valuable tool in solving the 20-year-old case. This image was created by a forensic artist at NCMEC and shows what Elyssa may look like today at 33.  

elyssa at 12 and age progressed to 33

Elyssa age progressed from 12 to 33 years old  

Shannon Vasquez vividly remembers the day her 12-year-old daughter, Elyssa, mysteriously vanished. It was January 28, 2003, when Elyssa was last seen getting on a bus after school. Shannon said she has been living in a nightmare ever since. 

Hear more from Elyssa's mom, Shannon Vasquez 

On that winter day, Elyssa took a public bus to attend school in Clarkston, Georgia. Shannon said it was Elyssa’s first day at a new school, and the two felt a mix of nervousness and excitement as they entered this new chapter. 

Shannon said her daughter was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and her previous school was not equipped in handling certain behaviors that students with learning disabilities often exhibit. “She would get up in the middle of class or compulsively do something as simple as throwing something in the trash,” Shannon explained. “I wanted to make sure they understood that she had a hyperactive disorder, and that we were on our path to working on it.” 

It was a stressful time for the whole family. Shannon was on bed rest and Elyssa’s dad was unable to take her to her new school that morning. “At first, I was worried and scared because I had to send her on a bus, not a school bus, it was a public MARTA bus.”  

Throughout the morning, Shannon said she felt uneasy, but her worries dissipated when she got a call from Elyssa. “She called me during lunch to tell me how happy she was at her new school. Everything was fine, she was excited. She even asked me if I could style her hair like the other girls when she returned home.”    

Shannon never thought this would be the last time she would talk with her daughter.  

The MARTA bus stop was right in front of the school, and according to investigators, a security guard confirmed that Elyssa and other students got on the public transport that afternoon. But Elyssa never got off at the bus stop near her home, where she was supposed to meet her father and brother. What happened to her remains a mystery to this day.  

No one had reported they saw Elyssa get off the bus at any point. It was as if she vanished into thin air.  

Shannon said she had Elyssa when she was very young and that the two shared a special bond. “She loved making people laugh and was very goofy and fun. She loved to dance and learn about music.”

Two photos of young Elyssa and her mother

Growing up, Elyssa and Shannon were extremely close 

The Vasquez family has not given up hope, and they will not stop searching until they find the answers they have been longing for. “If anyone knows anything, no matter how small, please call,” said Shannon. “Living with no answers is the worst thing to live with.”

elyssa before she went missing

Elyssa prior to her disapearance

“Our family is big on love, and we just love and miss her.”  

If you have any information about Elyssa Vasquez or her disappearance, please contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or the DeKalb County Police Department at 1-404-294-2519 or their Special Victims Unit at 770-724-7710. 

View Elyssa’s Missing Poster here:  

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