Sept. 27, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The City’s Medical Examiner has declared that the cause and manner of death of Sierra Shields, an Astoria flight attendant who went missing eight months ago and who’s body was found on the banks of Rikers Island several weeks ago, cannot be determined.
According to the Medical Examiner’s office, the cause and manner of Shields’ death cannot be determined, despite extensive testing. Though the spokesperson from the office could not speak to the specifics of the case, he said that testing in similar cases often includes toxicology and histology, or tissue analysis, and is often looked at in conjunction with outside sources including information from the police, the family, and medical records, among others.
Shields, a 30-year-old flight attendant living in Astoria, went missing after leaving her job as a flight attendant at La Guardia Airport on January 14, and her family launched numerous crowd funding and social media campaigns to try to find her.
“Sierra is a beautiful young lady with deep aspirations – she enjoys life,” Shields’ mother, Donna Shields, said in January. “We are simply wanting her back. We have no idea what happened. No idea.”
There was no new information on Shields’ disappearance until her body was found on the shore of Rikers Island on September 14, exactly eight months after she first went missing.
Despite the unknown nature of Shields’ death from a medical standpoint, police say that the case will remain open until a final determination can be made as to what happened to her.
Shields’ family posted on the Facebook group they set up to look for her, requesting people to share photos and memories.
“We do not have answers but we do have memories,” the post read. “Our lives are a collection of moments. Moments are stitched into stories, and when stories are woven together they have the power to narrate someone’s life. It’s our best way of knowing, and now in the wake of Sierra’s passing, it’s our only way of knowing.”