It was May 1990 and Myrtle Brown, 35, had traveled to New York to visit her best friend. What should have been a pleasant trip started badly from the beginning: her bag was stolen, where she had her identification and her epilepsy medication that she took regularly.
Suddenly he felt bad, so he called his family to let them know that he was going to go to a hospital to renew his medication. That was the last time they heard her voice, because after she said that she was going to go to the emergency room at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, she Myrtle Brown disappeared.
His daughter, EbonyShe was 13 years old at the time, and she didn’t know that she would never see her mom again. “She ended up going alone and that was the last time we heard from her,” she said in an interview with NBC.
For weeks and weeks, Myrtle’s entire family scoured hospitals and police stations in New York trying to find her, but they did not discover any information that could give them a clue as to her whereabouts. “I thought maybe she just wanted something different, maybe, from life. She was confused and sad,” her daughter recalled.
32 years later, channel surfing on television, Myrtle’s brother, Roberthe began to watch the program NBC “Nightly News with Lester Holt”. That day, he was dedicated to recounting the work of a team of forensic doctors and anthropologists who were dedicated to solving cold cases at the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
This team of professionals was led by Dr. Angela Solerand under his leadership they sought to clarify almost 1,250 cases of unidentified persons, mostly from the 1990s.
And suddenly something caught his attention: it was an identikit of a black woman, about 30 years old, with family features. It was a facial reconstruction, a widely used tool to recreate what the person’s face would have been like from a clay model.
That reconstruction made Robert jump out of his chair: “I saw a young woman who may or may not be my sister, and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I wonder if it could be her’.”
Just two days later, Robert and his wife decided to contact the medical examiner team. Thus, Soler and his team took charge of the Myrtle Brown case.
It was months of work. Hours of sifting through countless records of unidentified deaths or name-verified missing persons. After a thorough investigation, he came to his conclusion: the unidentified person who had been recreated no era Myrtle Brown.
However, Soler’s team had all the information they needed to find her. “I took a look at the reconstruction and realized, okay, I’m probably looking for a middle-aged black woman,” Soler told NBC. “Everything matched what the family was telling us, and they also told us that she disappeared in May 1990. So I knew exactly where to start my search.”
And finally he found an interesting record, that of a woman who had died on May 17, 1990. “She passed away in Brooklyn, which coincided with the family who told me that she used to get medical care in Brooklyn. She had a matching presumed name, a matching presumed date of birth, and the family had provided medical information about her missing loved one that also matched what was in the case file.”
Thus, Robert Brown received the call he had been waiting for more than three decades.
Soler explained to him and Eboney that he believed he had found his sister and her mother and gave them a photo of the deceased person to confirm whether or not it was Myrtle. It took Robert a second to recognize her, but Eboney knew immediately.
And with that news they were able to find out, after so long, what had happened.
Myrtle was never admitted to King’s County Hospital, but had been waiting in the emergency room when he had a seizure and died.
Myrtle had only given the hospital her name and date of birth, and since her ID had been stolen, that was all that was known.
Thus, 32 years later, the Brown family held a virtual memorial, in peace, at last, thanks to the truth.