This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Maryann Hutchison had a fantastic smile.
“She had a smile out of this world,” Cynthia Mayfield said, Maryann’s sister. “If she smiled at you, you would just have happiness upon your body.”
That smile was taken from the world when Maryann disappeared on July 22, 1979, in Evanston, Illinois at the age of 24. Her body has never been found.
Maryann was one of six Hutchison kids growing up in Evanston. She was quieter than the rest of her siblings, and she preferred to read compared to her siblings’ social activities.
“Our sisters and brothers, we always liked to party and go roller skating and different things like that. She was more of a bookworm,” Cynthia recalled.
In high school, Maryann started working at a Chase bank through a school jobs program, where she was one of the first black female employees at the bank. She stayed as an employee there after graduating high school and right up until her disappearance.
Maryann was a doting mother who loved her daughter deeply. For Maryann, her daughter was everything.
“Maryanne was an incredible mother. And you could tell, especially how her daughter was always just very happy,” Cynthia said.
Prior to her disappearance, Maryann met and married a man named James. James was not the father of Maryann’s beloved daughter.
According to newspaper clippings, Maryann and James were separated at the time of her disappearance.
Maryann’s daughter was just five years old when her mother disappeared. She grew up with her mother’s family.
As time went on, she distanced herself from her mother’s memory. “All the stuff that we ever gave her, she gave everything back to me and she didn’t want nothing to do with it,” Cynthia said.
While Cynthia has her suspicions about what happened to her sister, she still seeks answers for the case. She wants to properly put Maryann to rest. Cynthia has been working to get her sister entered into the NamUs database, but it seems the state of Illinois is slow to adopt use of the national information clearinghouse and resource center for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed persons.
Cynthia speaks openly and often about wanting to find Maryann’s remains, but more than anything she wants a memorial service. “Even if just to have a memorial service now, we need to put her case at rest so her soul can rest,” she said. “I don’t want to die and she hasn’t been put to rest in some kind of way. Because after me, I don’t think it will happen.”
Even after all these years, Cynthia keeps her sister on her mind.
“I love her. I love her and I miss her,” she said. “I still cry about her and I still have nightmares. If I could rest her soul, I could get all that weight off of me.”
Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Evanston Police Department at (847) 866-5000.
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