Missing Winnipeg man could be victim of foul play: police
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The mother of an Armed Forces veteran who went missing from the Burrows neighbourhood of Winnipeg more than 16 months ago is pleading for help from the public.
On Tuesday, the Winnipeg Police Service said new information has emerged about the disappearance of Robert Hutchison, who was last heard from Jan. 30, 2021.
Investigators revealed they believe there was foul play involved in the case.
Missing persons unit co-ordinator Sgt. Andrea Scott said police maintain Hutchison, who was 33 at the time, was in the area of Manitoba Avenue and Artillery Street that evening.
“(Foul play) means that we believe that Robert didn’t disappear of his own doing. He didn’t choose to disappear,” Scott said, noting police came to the conclusion “several months” into the investigation.
“We’re hoping… to bring a loved one home to their family, and in this case, to hold those people or persons responsible for his disappearance.”
Monique Hutchison spoke to media at police headquarters Tuesday morning, standing next to a television screen displaying a photo of her missing son.
“Please break the silence that has kept us in the dark for over a year-and-a-half. By being silent, you share in the guilt. By coming forward, you will help this family learn what has happened to our son and help us heal and move forward,” Monique said, her voice strained with emotion.
“Help us bring our son home.”
Scott added investigators aren’t saying Hutchison was the victim of violence, but other police units, including homicide, are involved in the investigation.
Hutchison, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran, was suffering from addictions in the lead-up to his disappearance, Scott said. Investigators believe those addictions played a role.
His mother said he had dreamed of joining the Forces since he was a boy.
“He was a proud veteran,” Monique said. “He achieved his goal and he loved every opportunity to serve his career gave him.”
Scott said Hutchison was familiar with the area where he disappeared, but would not elaborate on what police think he was doing there that night.
The sergeant said investigators have scoured the area, knocking on doors and conducting interviews, as well as looking at surveillance footage, establishing a pattern of Hutchison’s behaviour.
Police are asking residents in the area who may recall seeing or hearing anything unusual during the night of Jan. 31, 2021, to contact investigators.
“Someone knows something. People talk and we want to hear from them,” Scott said.
Police describe Hutchison as 5-10, with a medium build, light-brown brush-cut hairstyle and hazel eyes.
“Through the course of the investigation, basically what we do is we set up people’s patterns of behaviour — and it takes time to establish peoples’ comings and goings, their contacts, and so what the investigation has revealed is that pattern of behaviour has stopped, after that time,” Scott said, when asked why police believe Hutchison was victim to foul play.
“There hasn’t been any contact since… that, coupled with other aspects of the investigation, have led us that conclusion,” she said, without elaboration.
His mother said it has been 520 days since she she last spoke with her son.
“Robert is not just a missing person, he is our only son, beloved brother, an amazing uncle to his nieces and nephew, who miss him very much,” said Monique.
“He was a friend to so many, and he’s not only dearly missed by our large, extended family.”
Anyone with information can contact the missing persons unit at 204-986-6250.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
Updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 12:06 PM CDT: Typo fixed
Updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 12:21 PM CDT: Adds quote, further details on disappearance.
Updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 4:05 PM CDT: Image replaced