Sullivan cold case from 1975 solved

On September 15, 2017, the Detective Division of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Senior Investigator Yan Salomon of the NY State Police in Monroe regarding a cold case that he was working on. The case involved the recovery of skeletal remains in Orange County. The remains roughly fit the profile of a woman that had been reported missing in Sullivan County in 1975. Detectives located the missing person file in the County’s archives and reviewed it in an effort to determine if any living relatives may exist that could provide DNA for a possible match.

The missing person, Flora (Florence) Stevens, who was an employee of the Concord Hotel, was 36 at the time of her disappearance on August 3, 1975. She had been dropped off by her husband for a doctor’s appointment at Community General Hospital which was located in Monticello at that time. When her husband returned to pick her up she had vanished.  The case went through periodic reviews over the years with no leads being developed.

Sheriff’s Detective Rich Morgan worked with the New York State Intelligence Center as well as other Federal, State and Local agencies to access different databases in an attempt to locate possible relatives. In the process, Detective Morgan discovered that someone was using Flora Stevens’ social security number in the state of Massachusetts.  Detectives tracked down the social security number to an assisted living residence in Lowell.  Staff at the facility confirmed that the number belonged to a Flora Harris who had been at the facility since 2001.

Detectives Rich Morgan and Ed Clouse traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts on October 24, 2017 to interview Flora Harris. During the interview the Detectives were able to confirm that Flora Harris and the missing Flora Stevens were one in the same person.  Flora Harris who is now 78 years old suffers from dementia.  Her medical records go back about 30 years but are sketchy after that. She previously spent time in a nursing home in New Hampshire, and St. Lukes - Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Flora was able to recognize her Concord Hotel employee photograph that the Detectives had found in the case file. Because of her illness, it is still a mystery how and why she disappeared from Monticello in 1975 and where she went. To date, authorities are unable to locate any living relatives.

  “It is not too often that you get to solve a 42 year old missing person case” said Sheriff Mike Schiff. Although the case is now officially closed, a lot of questions remain. “The main thing is that we know that Flora is safe”, said Schiff.

 

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