|September 13, 2009, Daily Camera, Ellenor Hacker took out the trash and disappeared for 11 years, by Silvia Pettem
Nearly a half century ago, in Dec. 1959, Ellenor Hacker, a 55-year-old widow, disappeared when she left her Boulder home at 6:30 a.m. to take out the trash. Eleven years later, the Boulder police found her in Victoria, British Columbia. During the intervening years, no one -- not even her family -- knew where she was.
Initially her sisters and grown children suspected that she had been murdered. Hacker, who worked as an insurance underwriter, was believed to have been wearing a pink nightgown and bathrobe, leaving the back door open and her purse and glasses behind. However, missing from the home near Arapahoe Ave. and 20th Street that she shared with her son and daughter was $350 dollars from a recent stock sale.
"You fellows keep trying to make a homicide out of this," Boulder Police Chief Myron Teegarden told a newspaper reporter at the time. "As far as I'm concerned, Mrs. Hacker is still a missing person until we have something more to go on."
The police interviewed relatives and friends who were united in their belief that Hacker, was "a very stable, efficient, and forceful woman." No one could think of a reason why she should drop from sight. Her daughter added that she had been baking fruit cakes and cookies and was planning for the upcoming Christmas holidays.
Two weeks after Hacker's disappearance, Chief Teegarden mailed 500 missing-person circulars, with her description as a short heavy-set woman, to state police all over the country and to numerous large-city police departments.
As it turned out, Hacker did leave voluntarily, citing family problems. She assumed a different name and lived in San Francisco, where she worked as a housekeeper for an invalid woman and then a nurse before retiring and leaving the country.
The Boulder police were tipped off when she applied for Social Security benefits. That led them to her San Francisco address where they questioned her former landlady who recognized the missing woman's photograph. From there, the police followed her trail to a one-room apartment in Canada. When confronted, she admitted she was the missing person.
According to a reporter who interviewed Hacker in 1971, she was "furious" with the Social Security Administration for giving her information to the police. And she admitted that she had tried to make her disappearance as intriguing as possible because she "liked mysteries."
A spokesman for the police department, which had worked for years to find her, said Hacker "had a moral obligation" to contact them and admitted that the cops didn't even want to think about her case again. When the news broke, she was reluctantly reunited with some of her family members.
In her newspaper interview, Hacker finally filled in some gaps on her disappearance. She said she had purchased a new dress and handbag the day before she left and took only a toothbrush, hairbrush, and a one-way train ticket to San Francisco.
"I've had a happy busy life, and a useful one," she stated at the time. "There wasn't any quarrel, I just left. I had a little money saved, and I just thought 'the heck with it.'"