A New York woman who disappeared more than four decades ago has been found alive, suffering from dementia, in a Massachusetts nursing home.
Investigators say Flora Stevens was 36 when she vanished in 1975. Her husband had dropped her off at a hospital for a doctor's appointment near their home in upstate New York, but when he went back to pick her up, she was gone. She was not heard from until Tuesday, when detectives found the now-78-year-old in Lowell.
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"We're not sure where she's been," said Undersheriff Eric Chaboty of Sullivan County, New York. "She really comes on the radar in the 90s."
Last month, when skeletal remains were found near where Stevens vanished, detectives thought it might be her and they reopened the case. But instead of confirming her death, they found that someone was using her Social Security number. That led investigators to CareOne in Lowell, where they found Flora Stevens herself, now living as Flora Harris.
She suffers from dementia, but they're confident they have the right person. She was even able to recognize her old ID from a Catskills hotel where she worked before she vanished.
"When they showed her the employee ID photograph from 1975," said Chaboty, "She looked at it and said 'me.'"
Staffers at CareOne say she's been there since 2001.
She has a state-appointed guardian, according to Nathan Norton, administrator at CareOne.
"We're excited to help with the case," said Norton.
Norton says the facility had no idea she was ever considered a missing person until detectives arrived this week.
Stevens was transferred to the Lowell facility from a hospital in New York City in 2001, but little else is known.
Her medical records are hazy, and detectives can't paint a clear history of her mysterious life.
"The hospital records get kind of sketchy once you get past 1990, back into the 80s," said Chaboty.
No living relatives have been found, so investigators still have no idea how or why she vanished in the first place.
Authorities believe she bounced around to different in facilities in the 90s, and at one point, fell out of a window and suffered a traumatic brain injury.