By Bill Parry
The human remains that washed ashore on a Rikers Island beach Wednesday have been identified as those of Astoria resident Sierra Shields, a 30-year-old Delta and United flight attendant, according to the NYPD. Her disappearance from LaGuardia Airport in January set off an eight month search, by family and friends, her family said.
“We are eternally grateful for the outpouring of love and support for our beautiful sweet Sierra,” the family wrote in a statement released Friday. “We are truly thankful for how God used Sierra’s life to reflect the beauty of His Kingdom. Our family is requesting privacy at this time as we cherish the memory of our precious Sierra.”
She was last seen Jan. 14 when she was scheduled to work a flight out of LaGuardia Airport. After a brief conversation with her supervisor, Sierra left the airport on foot without her belongings, and had not been seen or heard from again.
On Wednesday, a skull and bones were discovered along the Rikers Island shoreline with several articles of clothing by correction officers training on the beach.
“Detectives from the 114th Precinct and the medical examiner’s responded to the location,” the NYPD said in a statement. “Based on an examination, it was determined that the deceased was Sierra Shields.”
A day before the identification was made, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said, “It appears to be, from someone who took their own life and jumped in the water.” Friends and family had noticed something different about Shields in the days before her disappearance, according to reports, and she had left her cellphone and wallet at her 35th Street apartment, her father, Chris Shields, told investigators at the time.
The Medical Officer’s Office will determine her cause of death.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr