On the eve of her disappearance 37 years ago, the police investigation into what happened to Mary Emma Hammond of Brantford has been reignited with images of four men who may have information about her fate.
Mary (nee Biesenthal) left her townhouse at 273 Elgin St. in Brantford on foot for work at around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 8, 1983. The 25-year-old woman was scheduled for the early morning shift in the former Buns Master Bakery at 110 Morton Ave., where she had been working for about one year.
Mary has turned down her husband Larry’s offer to walk with her on the 1.5-kilometre journey, according to “Peacemakers & Lawbreakers: A 125-Year History of the Branford Police Service” by Heather Ibbotson, a retired journalist who worked at the Brantford Expositor. At the time the couple’s truck was in an auto shop being repaired.
Walking north on the part of Park Road North that is now Wayne Gretzky Parkway, Mary likely passed the Massey-Ferguson factory, turned off the road at the right-of-way of the Canadian National Railroad main line and cut across a field behind the bakery. At approximately 4:30 a.m., a co-worker called Larry to ask why his wife was not at work.
Larry had no idea why Mary had not arrived at the bakery and soon went out to look for her along her route.
Larry tracked Mary’s footprints to the property line of the field behind the bakery. The footprints ended there.
At about 5 a.m., Larry called the Brantford Police Force, as it was known in 1983.
Investigators arrived at the scene behind the bakery and found more evidence that Mary had been there: a cup, a dish and a half-eaten apple from her lunch.
In the field, officers discovered one of Mary’s white socks and a small amount of human blood in a matted patch of grass. In response to a require inquiry, police would not say if the blood had ever been connected to Mary.
Investigators soon believed foul play had led to Mary’s disappearance and mounted an intensive ground and air search for the young woman. Unfortunately, the search yielded no more signs of Mary.
The only other clue found during the early stages of the investigation was a sighting by two of Mary’s fellow bakers of an older model brown pickup truck seen driving away from the bakery’s rear parking lot. The truck had painted numbers on it and round headlights.
The witnesses to the brown truck were later put under hypnosis in an attempt to pull more details about the truck from their memories, but that was unsuccessful and the truck was never found. Whether the truck had any connection to Mary’s disappearance remains unknown.
Ibbotson wrote that Mary was “a robust, healthy and strong young woman.”
“She was no pushover, physically or mentally, and officers don’t doubt she would have put up a fight with an abductor if she’d had a chance.”
Mary stood five-foot-nine and weighed approximately 140 pounds.
She had long straight reddish-brown hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion and was last seen wearing a blue, mauve and red lumberjack-style jacket, blue jeans, a yellow t-shirt and white Adidas running shoes with a silver stripe.
Investigators have since been able to collect evidence that has assisted in identifying people who may have been involved in Mary’s disappearance.
Police believe not everyone with information or knowledge related to the disappearance been identified.
The Brantford Police Service is appealing to the public for assistance to identify and locate the unknown people in several previously unreleased photographs.
Investigators would like to speak with the unidentified men in the photos about any information they may be able to provide related to the disappearance of Mary Hammond. The men in the photos are believed to have ties to the Hungarian, Ukrainian, Bosnian and Polish communities.
Police hope that with advancements in technology and forensic sciences, the continued dedication of officers, and information from the community, investigators will be able to determine what happened to Mary and bring closure to her family.
Anyone with information regarding Hammond’s disappearance is asked to contact the Mary Hammond tip line to leave a voicemail for investigators at 519-756-0113, ext. 2800, or by email at HammondDisappearance@police.brantford.on.ca
Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous are asked to contact Brant-Brantford Crime Stoppers at 519-750-8477 or 1-800-222-8477. An online tip can be submitted at https://crimestoppers-brant.ca/contact-us/.
Information about the disappearance of Mary Hammond can also be found in the Brantford Police Service website’s cold case files at www.brantfordpolice.ca/cold-case-files.