With the help of new technologies, the police were able to dig more into a decades-old missing person case. Can they now finally tell us what really happened? Is it really a solved case?
On the evening of Sunday, Aug. 3, 1975, 36-year-old Flora Stevens left home for a doctor’s appointment but never returned. Stevens was dropped off by Robert Stevens at a small hospital a couple of miles from the hotel in Monticello, New York. Since this incident happened back in the 70s, police investigators did not have the sophisticated digital tools like what we have today to track Stevens and find out if she was alive or dead.
The authorities say they are unable to disclose why she went to the hospital that evening because of privacy laws, and they don’t know what Stevens did once she was dropped off. However, there was a bus station nearby, and she might have had some money that Sunday evening.
New York authorities did their best work to try to find the missing woman but they were not able to find any leads to her whereabouts. Her case went cold, and Stevens’s husband was left unaware of his wife’s disappearance. However, recently, Detective Richard Morgan with the Sheriff’s Office in Sullivan County, New York, reinstated Stevens’s missing person case and put the modern approach to see if he could make any headway. Then, the result was astonishing.
With the aid of the latest forensic science and several digital tools, Detective Morgan made quick work of the decades-old cold case. Before finding her alive, they came across some human remains that matched Flora Stevens’ general characteristics. However, that turned out to be a false lead, but it led Morgan and Detective Sgt. Ed Clouse to cross-check more recently available databases that showed someone in CareOne facility, Lowell, Massachusetts, had Flora Stevens’ Social Security number with the same first name as Stevens and shared the same birthdate.
Detective Morgan and his colleagues figured that they had solved the case of the missing person. Thus, they sent a colleague to investigate the senior living center and to find out who this woman was. When they showed up at the Lowell location, they finally met Flora Harris. Flora was much older than she was when she went missing forty-two years ago and had white hair, but she was surely the same woman who got away from her doctor’s appointment all those years ago.
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When detectives Morgan and Clouse met with the old woman, they showed her a worn photo of the woman who had disappeared all those years ago. The image was taken in the Catskills, where Stevens had worked as a waitress. She recognized her own picture and that of Robert Stevens – she uttered the word “Robert.” She also was shown a picture postcard of The Concord with a happy poolside couple in the foreground.
Robert Stevens died in 1985. The Concord closed in 1998. The hospital where Flora Stevens was dropped off is abandoned. And the woman at the center of the mystery is revealing little.
Although the police have “solved” a decades-old missing person case — Stevens has now dementia and can’t explain her own disappearance. This means that no one remembers what happened to her all those years ago. Nonetheless, detectives are proud that they are able to finally close the case of Flora Stevens, thanks to modern technology.