Updated: Aug 3
Imagine it’s nighttime and you’re taking a cruise down Archer Avenue in Chicago. You turn to your right and see an attractive blonde girl in a white dress waving at you, asking you to slow down. You slam on the brakes, letting her enter your car. She enters and asks if you can drive her home—just a straight shot down the road. You come up on Resurrection Cemetery and she screams at you to stop immediately. She gets out of the car, touches the gate, and then disappears.
This wasn’t the start to a horror movie, but a common scenario for men who have picked up one of Chicago’s most infamous vanishing hitchhikers—Resurrection Mary.
So, what are the origins of this story? According to legend, sometime in the 1930s, there was a girl that got into a fight with her boyfriend at the Oh Henry Ballroom along Archer Avenue. She stormed out and started walking home, but on the way was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Worrying about their daughter, her parents went out to look for her, and found her dead alongside Archer Avenue. Grief-stricken, they buried her in Resurrection Cemetery, in a white dress.
Dating back over 70 years, there have been over three dozen reports of Mary, starting with the original sighting in 1939. During that encounter, Jerry Palus, a Chicago resident, was attending a dance at the Liberty Grove and Hall, where he danced with and kissed a beautiful blonde girl in a white dress. When he went to drive her home, she asked him to stop at the Resurrection Cemetery and disappeared into the night.
Another famous encounter happened in 1979, when a cab driver picked up a young blonde woman near a shopping center on Archer Avenue. A couple miles in, she yelled at him to stop. Confused by the fact there was no house nearby, she pointed to a shack on the left side of the road, but when he turned around to question her, she had disappeared.
In 1976, the intrigue into Resurrection Mary spiked again when a man walking by Resurrection Cemetery saw a young woman trapped inside. When the police showed up, they didn’t find the woman, but in her place found burned and warped bars with what looked like fingers scorched into the metal.
To this day, the identity of the girl remains a mystery. Some researchers have said it could be Mary Bregovy, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 1934, but by a car in the Chicago Loop. Another theory focuses on Anna "Marija" Norkus, who died in a 1927 auto accident on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom. While these are some compelling leads, there has been no formal evidence that could point to the true identity of Resurrection Mary.
But, for the people of Chicago, while the true identity of Mary remains a mystery, the speculation, intrigue, and continual sightings make this a legend one that will be debated for decades to come.