Mothers speak out in mistaken identity case

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While Nenita Balbin Smith is fighting to prove her daughter's innocence, Tammy Mae Chapman says her wanted daughter is dead. (KFSN)

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A wanted poster out of Dearborn County Indiana shows a woman deputies have been hunting for years, Melissa Chapman.

"In any case where someone's identity has been stolen, we want that person to be held accountable especially in light of the fact that they've been on the run for 11 years," Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard said.

She's accused of stealing a woman's identity in 2002 and giving up a baby for adoption under that stolen name. Now Inyo County authorities believe they found her and say Melissa Marie Neylon has been living a double life. "I don't know how to take it," Neylon said. "You know, I look at this picture, and I'm like 'how did this happen?'"

Negangard remembers this case and the wanted poster from 2002 when we told him Melissa Chapman's family has declared her dead, he says he's skeptical.

"This particular individual was pretty notorious for coming out with some pretty crazy schemes falsifying someone's identity," Negangard said. "So, I wouldn't find it unusual at all that she's purporting to be dead."

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Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard remembers this case and the wanted poster from 2002 when we told him Melissa Chapman's family has declared her dead, he says he's skeptical.


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Neylon is out on bail, and she's waiting for officials in Indiana to decide if they're going to extradite her, but until then her family says they're trying to prove her real identity.

"I want my daughter's story heard,"Neylon's mother Nenita Balbin Smith said. "I want the world to know what they did to Melissa, my Melissa."

Smith says her daughter was born Melissa Marie Smith in 1977. She gave us Melissa's birth certificate to prove it.

"I saw the picture and I said 'it's not my daughter,'" Smith said. "It can't be, I know it's not my daughter."

So if Neylon isn't leading a double life then who is the woman on the wanted poster?

We followed a trail of documents that led us to an obituary, information that Chapman's mother Tammy Mae Chapman said she already knew -- her wanted daughter is dead.

"My late daughter was Melissa Rheannon Chapman," Tammy said. "Date of birth February 21, 1978."

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While Nenita Balbin Smith is fighting to prove her daughter's innocence, Tammy Mae Chapman says her wanted daughter is dead.


Part 3 of a video series.
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Tammy said her daughter died in 2013 from a seizure disorder and had run-ins with the law. Chapman died, and her online obituary shows pictures of a better time.

"I'm not sure of each and every crime she committed," Tammy said. "But, at any rate, most of them, to the best of my knowledge, involved theft and violation of probation and drug charges."

Tammy can't say for sure if her daughter committed this 2002 identity theft crime as she was in and out of touch with her for years, but she does say her daughter died and she doesn't know anything about Melissa Neylon.

"I can only tell you that her certificate of death said medication interaction," Tammy said. "I don't know Melissa Neylon. I can't tell you anything about that."

Even if Chapman isn't dead, one woman cannot have two biological mothers. But both mothers maintain they know exactly where their daughters are; one is fighting for her freedom and the other is dead.

"This poor girl is human just as much as I am," Neylon said crying. "But it doesn't give them the right to do this to me I'm just trying not to lose it right now."
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