A New York state woman who went missing more than four decades ago has been found alive and well in Massachusetts.
On Aug. 3, 1975, Flora (Florence) Stevens, then 36 years old, went to a doctor’s appointment in Monticello, NY. Her husband dropped her off at a hospital in the Catskills for the appointment, according to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, but when he came back later to pick her up, she was gone.
Stevens was missing for 42 years. Investigators thought they had a lead when unidentified remains were found by state police this past September. State authorities contacted the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office because they thought the remains matched the description of Stevens.
Officials tried to find any relatives who could identify her, and instead found out that someone was using Stevens’ social security number in Massachusetts.
Deputies traced that number to an assisted-living residence in Lowell. The faculty there confirmed that the social security number belonged to a Flora Harris, who has lived there since 2001.
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Detective Rich Morgan and Detective Ed Clouse went to Lowell on Oct. 24 to meet Harris, and learned she and Flora Stevens were the same person. The detectives showed her her old Concord Hotel employee photograph from her case file, and she was able to recognize herself.
The woman is now 78 years old and has dementia, according to reports, so she could not share her own story of what happened on that day 42 years ago, but authorities are happy to close the case.
“It’s not too often we get to solve a 42-year-old missing-person case,” Sheriff Mike Schiff said in a statement. “The main thing is we know Flora is safe.”
Before arriving at the Lowell assisted-living facility, the woman had stayed in nursing homes in New Hampshire and New York City, according to her medical records. Her records go back about 30 years, but are “sketchy” after that, the Sheriff’s office said. Officials have not found any living relatives.