Police Find Missing Woman in Nursing Home After 42 Years

Police have “solved” a decades-old missing person case — but the woman who vanished so long ago now has dementia and can’t explain her own disappearance.

New York authorities never thought they would solve the 42-year-old missing person case of Flora Stevens, but then a state police investigator contacted the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office last month about some skeletal remains that might fit the vanished woman’s profile.

Those skeletal remains pushed Sheriff’s Detective Rich Morgan to look into whether Stevens — who was 36 when she disappeared — had any living relatives. By hunting through federal, state and local databases, he discovered someone was using Stevens’ social security number in Massachusetts.

After a short drive up to Lowell, Massachusetts, Morgan and partner Detective Ed Clouse met Flora Harris, 78, in a local nursing home.

Harris recognized an old employee photograph of Stevens from the Concord Hotel, and the two police officers soon realized Stevens and Harris were the same woman — but much had changed.

“She doesn’t speak in more than one or two words at a time,” Sullivan County Undersheriff Eric Chaboty explained, noting that Stevens suffers from dementia. “But she looked at the ID and said, ‘Me!'”

The struggle to communicate indicates a late middle stage or end stage form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Phil McCausland