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Missing woman reported alive after 40 years

A woman who walked away from her family 40 years ago in Illinois, has been found alive  in Jacksonville, Fla.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A woman who walked away from her family four decades ago in Illinois, has been found in Jacksonville, Fla., authorities say.

Lula Cora Hood went missing in 1970; relatives say she left home one day and never returned, according to The woman was known suffer from mental health issues at the time.

"She just left one day, and we never heard another thing," Hood's daughter, Grace Kivisto told, an NBC affiliate in Florida.

Kivisto, who was 15 at the time of her mother's disappearance, was later adopted by relatives, who had no word about Hood until 1996. Police called that year to tell the family that human remains had been found in Galesburg, Fla.

"They said it was her," Krivisto told "But they couldn't do DNA at the time, because it wasn't that advanced yet."

Without any definitive evidence, the family buried the recovered remains and held a memorial service. "I just decided she was with God," Hood's niece, Bernadine Collis told

But two years ago, the family sought DNA testing, in hopes that technological advances would establish once and for all any family connection to the woman they buried. In late June, they learned the remains were not Hood's, but of another female.

"So we were back to square one," Kivisto told

Investigators then re-opened the case, and using the Internet, were able to find the missing woman in Florida in late June. Though the results of a DNA test won't be available for several months, officials are convinced they have the right woman this time.

"I had confidence we would find her," Sgt. Jason Landers of the Knox County Sheriff's Department told "I didn't know whether I thought she would still be alive."

Hood's family is now hoping for a reunion. "I want to see her so bad," Collis said.

This article contains reporting from, and staff.