Vanessa Dawn Smith, a teenager from Winton, went missing on May 31, 1997, after not returning home for her regular evening walk.

When Vanessa did not return, her parents contacted the authorities.

The next day, community members searched the area to help find Vanessa. Unfortunately, the only physical evidence found was Vanessa’s walking stick, which she used to ward off stray dogs. The walking stick was discovered 200 yards east of Mercedes Avenue, along the walking path Vanessa usually takes.

It’s been 27 years, and the case of Vanessa Smith remains unsolved.

There is currently a $50,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Vanessa Smith.

Anyone with information can contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Bureau at 209-385-7472, or email [email protected] or [email protected].

Thank you to the businesses that displayed Vanessa’s flyers outside their storefronts and inside their establishments.