Authorities have announced the identification of the remains belonging to a 16-year-old girl from North Jersey who vanished a day after Easter 50 years ago. Still unresolved in the cold case, however, is the cause of death.

Following the April 1972 disappearance of Nancy Carol Fitzgerald, of Bloomfield, skeletal remains were recovered in December 1988 in Atlantic Highlands during a community clean-up event near the Henry Hudson Bike Trail.

A state forensic anthropologist found that the bones had belonged to a young white female, between the ages of 15 and 18, who had probably died sometime around the mid-1970s, but law enforcement was unable to confirm an identity.

Skeletal remains were found in Atlantic Highlands in 1988 (Google Maps, MCPO)
Skeletal remains were found in Atlantic Highlands in 1988 (Google Maps, MCPO)

In the 1990s, investigators managed to get a DNA profile from the remains in another effort to identify them, with no success.

Then two years ago, officers with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office contacted Virginia-based DNA analysis firm, Bode Technology, for a forensic genealogical review of the remains using advanced technology.

A distant relative in Georgia was confirmed, whose submission of family DNA led to a key identification: a woman in Pennsylvania believed to be the younger sister of the unidentified teen.

Last month, that woman’s own DNA sample returned a nearly 100% probability of an immediate family connection.

A new review by the Middlesex Regional Medical Examiner’s Office was then able to identify the remains as those of Fitzgerald.

Her surviving relatives were notified and are being given the remains for burial.

A Bloomfield teen who vanished in 1972 had lived on Mohr Avenue (Google Maps, Bloomfield Police)
A Bloomfield teen who vanished in 1972 had lived on Mohr Avenue (Google Maps, Bloomfield Police)

“While we are certainly encouraged that the identification was made, solving a 50-year-old mystery, this is ultimately a puzzle that will remain unfinished until we locate the final missing piece: the circumstances behind Nancy’s death,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond Santiago said in a written statement.

Her peers would all likely be in their 60s today, he continued, “so we firmly believe that it is not too late to determine what happened to her and why – and, if possible, to hold any living person who may be responsible accountable for it.”

At the time of the teen’s disappearance, Fitzgerald’s family was living in a home on Mohr Avenue in Bloomfield. She attended Bloomfield’s Berkeley Elementary School and North Junior High School — which is today Bloomfield Middle School.

Anyone with potential information on the case can contact MCPO Detective Wayne Raynor at 800-533-7443 or Atlantic Highlands Police Department Lt. Michael Zudonyi at 732-291-1212.

Anonymous information can be submitted to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app or by going to the website

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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