Detectives Cracked A 42-Year-Old Cold Case And Found A Missing Woman In The Most Unlikely Of Places

It was a typical day for the Stevens family. Robert dropped his wife Flora off at a doctor’s appointment while he left to run errands. Little did he know that separating that day would lead to his wife’s disappearance and a 42-year cold case.

The series of events that unfold, including the epic conclusion of the case, is almost too unbelievable to be true.

It Was A Normal Day Of Errands For The Stevens Family

Robert Stevens didn’t think twice when he dropped his wife, Florence “Flora,” off at the doctors for a routine checkup. It was a safe place, and she would have no issue being alone for an hour or so while he ran errands around town.

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Unsplash/RO
Unsplash/RO

At least, that’s what he thought.

Flora Was Not There When Robert Returned

Sadly, when Robert returned to pick his wife up from her appointment, she was nowhere to be seen. He waited around, thinking she might still be in with the doctor.

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Alvin Leopold/Unsplash
Alvin Leopold/Unsplash

But after speaking to a receptionist, Robert was informed that his wife was nowhere in the office. She disappeared.

A 42-Year-Old Cold Case

What started off as a normal day with a to-do list and appointments would turn into a 42-year cold case of a missing person. Robert did not know what to do. He never thought something like this would happen to his family.

Darmstadt trial against motorists kicks off
Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images
Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

Horrible situations happened to other people, not them.

36-Years-Old And Missing

At the time of her disappearance, Flora was 36-years-old and wanton for adventure. She wouldn’t randomly walk off on her own, and that’s why Robert was so distraught to find her missing.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

The date was August 3, 1975, and Robert couldn’t help but think something horrible had happened to Flora. Maybe she was kidnapped right under the clinic’s nose.

The Catskill Mountains Were Busy In The Summer

The summer was always a busy time in the Catskill Mountains in New York, full of laughter, parties, and families going for vacation. In 1975, Flora was front and center to the festivities, working at The Concord, a resort located in the mountains.

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It was a popular place for tourists and locals alike. Perhaps someone from the resort took her?

They Started At The Beginning

The detectives on the case didn’t want to jump to any conclusions and opted to start from the beginning. They learned that Flora went to school at Lincoln High School in New York.

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Feliphe Schiarolli/Unsplash
Feliphe Schiarolli/Unsplash

Weirdly enough, it was really the only bit of information they could dig up. Aside from Robert, Flora had no family they could find.

There Were No Clues

Between her supposed kidnapping and the days that followed, the detectives on the case were stumped. They were coming up with zero clues or leads to help them locate Flora.

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Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

It wasn’t just the detectives; Robert had no idea what could possibly have happened to his wife. Did she walk out the door and not look back? Or was she taken?

Technology Was Not On Their Side

Unfortunately, it was 1975, and the police force didn’t have the technology to help locate a missing person as they do in the 21st century. They had to do a lot of heavy lifting and groundwork to find even the tiniest bread crumb of a lead.

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Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

With no cellphones to track and no family to question, the detectives were at a loss.

Days Turned Into Weeks And Then Months

Days searching for answers quickly turned into weeks and then months with nothing moving the case forward. The detectives were at a loss and had no idea what happened to Flora if she had been kidnapped or where she would have gone if she had run.

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LIZ HAFALIA/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
LIZ HAFALIA/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Eventually, the detective team decided to call the case, marking it as unsolved.

Things Finally Turned Around In 2017

Robert needed closure. So, he stopped looking for Flora and moved on with his life. It was his semblance of closure, even though he didn’t know what happened to his wife that fated day.

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Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

After years of unanswered questions, Flora’s case was reopened in 2017 with new evidence added to the pile.

New Evidence Was Discovered

In 2017, senior investigator Yan Salomon found something that very well could have been tied to Flora’s case. He actually believed it was enough to reopen the missing woman’s file and start searching again.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

What he found was located in Flora’s case file, and he couldn’t believe the detail was originally overlooked.

The News Wouldn’t Be Good…

Salomon was hesitant to break his findings to family; he wanted to look into everything and have his facts straight. He found the body of a woman, located in the Catskill Mountains near The Concord, the resort where Flora worked in 1975.

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sadly, identifying the body was easier said than done.

Around 70,000 Women Go Missing In The US Each Year

Salomon called the Sullivan County Sheriff’s office, asking for a detective to help identify the body. He was all too eager to help Salomon in the investigation.

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Christopher Campbell/Unsplash
Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

The thing is, around 70,000 women go missing in the United States each year. Identifying the body was not going to be a simple task.

There Was A Lot Of Work To Do

At the time Salomon was looking into missing women’s reports, a solid 21,894 cases remained “active.” He had his work cut out for him if he were to discover the identity of the body.

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MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

He was going to need a lot of patience while shifting through all of the paperwork.

Finally, They Found A Connection

Salomon thought his expertise would be of better use on the ground. So, he left his team to look through the open files as he made his way to Sullivan County.

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Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Soon, he realized the woman he had found was from the area. Digging deeper, he and his team found an open case connected to the body.

It Was Not Flora

The body of the woman Salomon found was not Flora. And so, her case remained unsolved. But Salomon wasn’t going to give up easily. While her original file did not have much to go off, he wasn’t about to put it down and walk away.

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Tim Leedy/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
Tim Leedy/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

There was still more to uncover.

Detective Richard Morgan Was Brought On

Salomon was taking too much time and using too much manpower on the case. Eventually, he was asked to hand it over to Detective Rich Morgan from the Sullivan County Police Department.

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u/deleted/Reddit
u/deleted/Reddit

Detective Morgan took over and was tasked with connecting Flora’s disappearance with the body found in the Catskill Mountains.

There Must Have Been An Overlooked Detail

Detective Morgan dove right into the case, knowing there must be a tiny detail they’d missed all of those years ago or even new information that would lead them straight to Flora.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

It was just a matter of finding it in a timely fashion and not taking another few decades. Fate would have it that Detective Morgan would find his detail and find Flora in the most unlikely place.

He Found An ID Badge From The Concord

Finally, detective Morgan caught a break. He found an ID badge belonging to the lady Salomon found in the mountains. It revealed that she worked at The Concord, the same as Flora.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

Not only that, but he also figured out that the two women went missing around the same time.

Something Horrible Happed In The Summer Of 1975

Without the technology they now possessed, Flora’s file did nothing but collect dust from 1975 onward. It was time to finally bring her home. The thing was, they still didn’t know where to find her.

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Britta Schultejans/picture alliance via Getty Images
Britta Schultejans/picture alliance via Getty Images

All they knew was something horrible happened in the Catskill Mountains during the summer of 1975.

Once Again, No New Clues Were Discovered

If he wanted to crack the case, Detective Morgan had no choice but to keep digging into archived files, hoping something would jump out and give him a clue as to what happened to Flora all those years ago.

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Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images
Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Unfortunately, days once again turned into weeks and then months, with no one on the team finding new clues to go off.

Robert Passed Away Ten Years After Flora’s Disappearance

Detective Morgan thought it would be a good idea to interview Robert, Flora’s husband, once again. Sadly, he learned Robert passed away just ten years after Flora’s disappearance in 1975.

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Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

He never learned what happened to his wife, as he passed away before getting any answers or actual closure. As it turned out, it would wind up being a good thing.

Things Were Going Cold Until Morgan Thought Of Something

With no living relatives to talk to, Flora’s missing person case went cold once again. Detective Morgan wasn’t sure what steps to take next; they were at a dead end.

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Serkan Avci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Serkan Avci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Thankfully, there was one thing Detective Morgan had that the investigators didn’t all those years ago — access to various databases.

It Was About Her Social Security Number

He went straight to the social security number database, hoping there would be a hit on Flora’s personal number. Detective Morgan was able to search both the local and national databases, seeing if someone was actively using Flora’s SSN.

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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

To his surprise, he got a hit on her number.

It Was Almost Too Easy

At first, Detective Morgan thought it was too good to be true. Could it really be that easy? Did he just find Flora after 42 years? Or was it just some identity theft who was utilizing a missing woman’s social security number for their own benefit?

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There was only one way to find out — travel to the SSN’s destination.

She Was Over 200 Miles Away

Detective Morgan learned that the social security number was being used over 200 miles away, in the tiny town of Lowell, just north of Boston, Massachusetts. He knew the state and town but also the exact location, an assisted living facility.

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Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Things just got a lot more interesting, and Detective Morgan didn’t waste any time.

Everything Matched But The Last Name

Calling the facility, Detective Morgan learned that there was a woman named Flora, and she’d been there since 2001. But her last name was Harris and not Stevens.

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Claduia Van Zyl/Unsplash
Claduia Van Zyl/Unsplash

With the same first name, social security number, and birthday, Detective Morgan wasn’t taking any chances. He hopped into his car and drove to the facility to meet the woman face to face.

They Finally Found Her

Meeting Flora, Detective Morgan was amazed at her answers to his questions. While she didn’t remember much of 1975, a result of her dementia, Flora did recognize a picture of her younger self the detective brought into the meeting.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

Not only that, but she was able to point out her former husband in a picture as well. After 42 years, they finally found Flora Stevens.

Sadly, She Couldn’t Fill In The Blanks

While the detectives were thrilled to have found the missing woman, they still didn’t have answers. They had no idea what happened to her that fateful summer day in 1975 or why she decided to change her last name.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

All they could do was speculate and hypothesize about the circumstances.

Flora Didn’t Want To Be Found

One of the theories was Flora ran away due to psychiatric issues. Another was that she was in a bad relationship with Robert, and abuse led her to turn away from her life, buy a bus ticket, and never look back.

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Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department
Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

According to Flora’s longtime caregiver Mbuva, the only piece of the puzzle she understood was the once-missing woman didn’t want to be found. All that mattered was after 42 years; the case could be put to rest.