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Hayes was last seen at 11:00 p.m. on March 10, 1977, when she left her home in the 700 block of Atwater Street in Bloomington, Indiana. She planned to purchase a pack of cigarettes and had the cash on her to do so. She never returned to her rooming house. Hayes left behind all her clothes, her luggage, her checkbook, and her Indiana University student identification card. Her apartment was in an orderly condition when she left it.
It has been established that Hayes bought cigarettes at the Caveat Emptor store (now a Starbucks coffee shop) on Indiana Avenue, four blocks from her home, on the evening of her disappearance. She was never heard from again after that.
Hayes had completed seven semesters at Indiana University at the time of her disappearance, majoring in social services. She was unsure as to whether she wanted to continue with that major and had taken a semester off to decide whether to complete her degree or start again with another major. She was working three days a week as a housekeeper to meet her expenses. Hayes's family in Fort Wayne, Indiana last saw her in January 1977, and she last spoke to them on the telephone on February 10.
Investigators are not sure what happened to Hayes. Her loved ones describe her as a quiet person who would be unlikely to get into a stranger's car. Her case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd.