A woman who disappeared 42 years ago from New York was found suffering from dementia and residing in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, according to the police.

New York's Sullivan County police said Flora (Florence) Stevens was 36 years old at the time of her disappearance from Monticello, New York, Aug.3, 1975. When her husband returned to pick her up after dropping her off for a doctor’s appointment, she was nowhere to be seen.

Despite frequent reviews of her missing person case over the years, the police kept hitting dead ends. But in September this year, Times Herald-Record reported Sullivan County authorities reopened the file after a New York State Police investigator contacted them upon finding unidentified remains, which matched Stevens’ characteristics vaguely, in the neighboring Orange County.

On further investigation, Sullivan County Detective Rich Morgan discovered Stevens’ Social Security number was being used in Massachusetts when he tried to find her relatives for a DNA sample to identify the body.

Morgan found the number was being used by 78-year-old Flora Harris, who was living in an assisted-living home in Lowell, Massachusetts, since 2001.  He and another detective visited the home on Tuesday and found Harris and Stevens to be the same person.

Because of her condition, she couldn't provide details of her life since she went missing, police said. However, the Boston Globe reported Stevens identified herself in her employee ID from a Catskills resort, where she worked as a chambermaid and waitress in the 1970s. She also smiled at a picture of the Concord Hotel in the Borscht Belt circuit, where she had worked.  

Investigators also found medical records from the 1990s that traced the whereabouts of Stevens to a nursing home in New Hampshire and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt in New York City.

Eric Chaboty, undersheriff in Sullivan County, said police solved the case using a combination of improved digital technology and old-fashioned detective techniques. The police, however, did not find any other details about Stevens’ life since 1975. She was never stopped by authorities although her name, birth date and physical description had been recorded in police files and computers.

“She avoided any police contact in all those years,” Chaboty said. “We don’t know where she’s been until the medical records start getting detailed in the ’90s. It’s a neat feeling,” Chaboty said.

Sheriff Mike Schiff was quoted by ABC News as saying: "It's not too often we get to solve a 42-year-old missing-person case. The main thing is we know Flora is safe."

The disappearance had “kind of faded from our radar over the years,” Chaboty said.

“Every so often, we would take out the file and see if we could find some leads,” he added.

“We were all kind of shocked and excited,” said Nathan Norton, the administrator at the CareOne facility where Stevens lives. “Everybody loves Flora.”

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

The remains that led to finding Stevens have not been identified.