Remains of teen who went missing 50 years ago in Bloomfield finally identified

The family of an Essex County teen who went missing 50 years ago is finally getting some answers.

News 12 Staff

Dec 6, 2022, 3:23 AM

Updated 594 days ago


The family of an Essex County teen who went missing 50 years ago is finally getting some answers.
“I always wanted to find her. But I didn’t want to find her this way,” says Kathy Unterberger.
It has been five decades since Unterberger last saw her older sister Nancy Fitzgerald.
The sisters were only a year apart in age and were close when they were little.
“No one could tell us apart,” Unterberger says.
But Unterberger says that her sister became a troubled teen and became involved in drugs early on. Fitzgerald disappeared when she was 16 years old. She was last seen on Easter Sunday at the family’s home on Mohr Avenue in Bloomfield.
“The story begins with a 15-year-old overdosing, and she started telling the story about this man,” Unterberger says.
News 12 New Jersey met with Unterberger and her husband at their home in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Unterberger says that she keeps an old newspaper article that says that after an overdose, Fitzgerald turned on her supplier, leading to his arrest. She disappeared shortly after that.
"In those days - if you were missing, you were a runaway… especially if she was a troubled girl,” Unterberger says. "We never realized she wasn’t ever coming back.”
Sixteen years after Fitzgerald vanished, people cleaning the Henry Hudson bike trail in Atlantic Highlands found human remains. It was 50 miles from where Fitzgerald went missing. Forensics determined that the time that the remains belonged to a teenage girl. A composite sketch that was created looks the way Unterberger looked back then.
"I don’t remember [my sister] looking like that, but I looked through an old photo of myself, and a friend said, ‘Kathy, that looks like you,’” Unterberger says.
Using new technology in 2022, investigators at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office matched the sisters' DNA - a near 100% match.
Unterberger says that she is happy to have answers. But also mourns the fact that there is now no doubt that her sister is dead. She says she now wants to see more photos of her sister.
"Anything with her face - just so I can see her one more time, with her 16-year-old face,” Unterberger says.
She's asking anyone who might have photos of Fitzgerald to contact the family.
Unterberger says that she would also like to find out how her sister died.

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