MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – It was 26 years ago on Wednesday that Vanessa Dawn Smith, who was 15 years old at the time, vanished on her daily walk in Merced County.

On May 31, 1997, at around 7:00 p.m. Vanessa left her Winton home for a walk and never returned home. Vanessa’s walking stick was found along the roadside on Mercedes Avenue, approximately 200 yards East of Winton Way. 

As of 2023, Vanessa would be 41 years old.

State of California Department of Justice

If you have any information about where Vanessa is, please contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Department case #97-15625, at (209) 385-7444. It is possible to remain anonymous.