NY woman missing since 1975 found alive in nursing home

The 42-year-old mystery of a New York woman who vanished after being dropped off for a doctor's appointment came to a happy ending this week when detectives located her at a Massachusetts assisted living facility.

Flora Stevens, 78, was using the name Flora Harris when detectives tracked her down at the facility in Lowell, 23 miles northwest of Boston. Medical records showed Stevens had previously lived in nursing homes in New Hampshire and New York City, but officials say they've been unable to figure out details of her life since her disappearance.

"It's not too often we get to solve a 42-year-old missing-person case," Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff said in a statement. "The main thing is we know Flora is safe."

Police said Stevens was a 36-year-old employee of a Catskills resort in August 1975, when her husband dropped her off for a doctor's appointment at a hospital in Monticello, 75 miles northwest of New York City. When he returned to pick her up, she wasn't there.

Police periodically reviewed Stevens' case but kept hitting dead ends. They got a break in September, thanks to a query from a New York State Police investigator working on a different cold case. The unidentified remains of a woman had been found in neighboring Orange County, and the investigator said they roughly matched Stevens' general characteristics.

The state police investigators asked Sullivan County for help tracking down any relatives who could provide a DNA sample for possible identification. During a records search, Detective Rich Morgan discovered someone was using Stevens' Social Security number in Massachusetts.

The number was tracked to the Lowell residence, where Stevens had lived since 2001. Officials said Stevens recognized herself on her employee photo identification card from the now-defunct Concord Resort.

Stevens' husband died in 1985, and she apparently has no living relatives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.