The issue of finding missing persons has been an age-old concern that continues in the present. Families not knowing the fate of their loved ones is often worse than the discovery that they’ve died, primarily because of the nagging uncertainty that comes along and never goes away in this type of tragedy.
Back on August 3, 1975, a 36-year-old New York woman Flora Stevens had scheduled a doctor’s appointment at Monticello Community Hospital. At the time of this appointment, she was employed as a waitress and chambermaid at the Concord Resort, a nearby hotel.
However, after being dropped off by her husband, she essentially fell off the face of the earth. Her alarmed spouse quickly filed a missing person’s report, which then brought a detective with the Monticello Police Department, Art Hawker, onto the case.
Hawker plunged into the circumstances of the case, checking with Flora’s fellow employees at the Concord Resort. While those individuals offered no real information, he did discover that she had been paid by the Concord on the day she disappeared.
Given the fact that her husband had reported her missing, he was looked at as a possible suspect, while Flora’s friends were queried to see if they could offer any clues regarding the mystery. Taking things to the extreme, Hawker also checked with the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program to see if they could help.
That lack of success that had frustrated Hawker also was felt by individuals who kept tabs on the case over the decades. Despite forensic advancements like DNA detection, the lack of living relatives, other than Flora’s husband who died in 1985, was one more fork in the road that went nowhere.
However, modern technology did eventually provide a break in the case. Rich Morgan, a detective from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s office had spoken with a colleague who was working another case that had seemingly been forgotten. The other law enforcement officer indicated that the remains he’d discovered sounded like they could be Flora’s.
While that didn’t prove to be the case, that individual had been using the Social Security number and birthday of Flora. Ultimately, the trail brought Morgan to an assisted-living center in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he met a woman with dementia who was known as Flora Harris.
Morgan showed the ailing 78-year-old woman some photographs and items from her past life. In what came as a surprise to the home’s staff, Flora was able to immediately recognize the identification badge that she wore during her days at the Concord Resort.
One negative in what might be considered a happy ending is the fact that Flora’s deteriorating condition makes it highly unlikely that all of the facts about this case will emerge.
Still, because some dementia patients can clearly remember events from decades ago and then not remember something from a moment ago, the hope is that such a miracle might occur in this instance. The other 85,000 cases of current missing persons are also hoping for similar luck.