A woman who disappeared after her husband dropped her off at an upstate New York hospital for a doctor’s appointment in 1975 has been found, authorities say.
Detectives tracked down Flora Stevens, 78, and discovered that she resides in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts and suffers from dementia, the Associated Press reported.
Police say she lives in Lowell under the last name Harris, but they have been unable to piece together what happened to her over the past 42 years.
“It’s not too often we get to solve a 42-year-old missing-person case,” Sheriff Mike Schiff said in a press release. “The main thing is we know Flora is safe.”
The Daily Freeman reports that Stevens, who was 36-years-old and employed by a Catskills resort at the time, disappeared after her husband dropped her off at her doctor’s appointment at a Monticello hospital. She never appeared when her husband arrived to pick her up.
The case went cold, even though police in Sullivan County reviewed her missing persons case occasionally in the hopes of finding a break. Authorities got that break in September, when they received a tip from Yan Salomon, a senior investigator with the New York State Police, according to the Washington Post.
Salomon called detectives at the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and told them that he found the skeletal remains of a body in neighboring Orange County that matched Stevens’ description. He asked the investigators to find relatives who could furnish a DNA sample for identification purposes.
Detective Rich Morgan searched the records and found someone used Stevens’ social security number in Massachusetts.
Deputies traced the number to the Lowell-based assisted living facility and confirmed that a resident named Flora Harris used the number.
Morgan and another detective determined that Harris, who lived at the facility since 2001, was Flora Stevens after showing her Stevens’ employee identification card from when she worked at the Concord Resort.
She could not provide detectives with many details of her life since her 1975 disappearance because of her condition but recognized herself from the picture on the ID.
Medical records under the last name Harris show that she lived in New Hampshire and New York City nursing homes before coming to Lowell, investigators say.
Officials say Stevens has no known living relatives.