Sierra Shields, a 30-year-old flight attendant from Astoria, New York, went missing on January 14, 2024, after leaving her workplace at LaGuardia Airport. Nine months later, her remains were found on Rikers Island, along with some clothing items. The police believe she took her own life and jumped into the water, but the official cause and manner of death have not been released yet. Here is what we know so far about the case of Sierra Shields.
According to her family and friends, Sierra Shields was a cheerful, kind, and devout person who loved her job as a flight attendant for Delta and United airlines. She was also an active member of her church and a volunteer for several causes. However, something seemed to be troubling her in the days before her disappearance. Her father, Chris Shields, told Dateline that she sounded distracted and preoccupied when he spoke with her on the phone. He also said that she had recently broken up with her boyfriend and was looking for a new apartment.
On the day she went missing, Sierra was scheduled to work on a flight, but instead of boarding the plane, she had a brief conversation with her supervisor, handed in her equipment, and left on foot. She was last seen wearing her flight attendant uniform, a navy blue dress, and carrying a green tote bag. She did not take her cell phone, wallet, or ID with her. Her family reported her missing the same day and launched a massive search campaign, posting flyers, creating a Facebook group, and using the hashtag #FindSierraNYC on social media. They also offered a $10,000 reward for any information leading to her whereabouts.
The search for Sierra Shields came to a tragic end on September 14, 2024, when some bones and clothing items washed up on Rikers Island, a jail complex in the East River. The NYPD Chief of Detectives, Bob Boyce, announced that they believed they had identified the remains as those of Sierra, based on the clothing that matched her description. He also said that it appeared that she had taken her own life and jumped into the water, but they had not made a definitive ID yet. The Medical Examiner was tasked with confirming the identity and determining the cause and manner of death.
The next day, Sierra’s family confirmed that the remains were indeed those of their beloved daughter and sister. They released a statement to NBC New York, thanking the community for their support and expressing their gratitude for how Sierra’s life reflected the beauty of God’s kingdom. They also requested privacy as they mourned their loss.
While the discovery of Sierra’s remains may have brought some closure to her family and friends, it also raised many questions about what led her to take such a drastic step. What was bothering her so much that she decided to end her life? Did she leave any note or message explaining her actions? Was there any foul play or coercion involved? How did she get to Rikers Island, which is not accessible by foot or public transportation? How long was she in the water before her remains were found? These are some of the mysteries that remain unsolved in the case of Sierra Shields.
According to NBC News, the police are still investigating the circumstances of her death and are looking for any witnesses or evidence that could shed some light on the case. They are also waiting for the results of the toxicology and DNA tests from the Medical Examiner. Anyone with information is asked to contact the NYPD at 800-577-TIPS.
Despite the tragedy and mystery surrounding her death, Sierra Shields left behind a legacy of love, faith, and service that touched many lives. She was remembered as a beautiful, sweet, and generous person who always had a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone. She was passionate about her job as a flight attendant and loved to travel and explore new places. She was also a devoted Christian who shared her faith with others and volunteered for various causes, such as helping the homeless, mentoring children, and supporting missionaries. She was an inspiration and a blessing to many people who knew her and even to some who did not.
Sierra’s family and friends have honored her memory by continuing her work and spreading her message of hope and joy. They have also established a foundation in her name, called the Sierra Shields Foundation, which aims to provide scholarships, mentoring, and counseling to young people who aspire to become flight attendants or pursue careers in aviation. The foundation also seeks to raise awareness and prevention of suicide and mental health issues among flight attendants and other aviation workers. Through the foundation, Sierra’s family and friends hope to keep her spirit alive and help others achieve their dreams.