Police in Massachusetts are searching for a missing mother last seen at her sister’s Massachusetts home in May.
Jackie Coutinho, 53, was last seen on May 15 shortly after 10:00 a.m. in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, according to police. Jackie lives in Florida, her stepdaughter Jessica Bryan told Dateline, but had been visiting her sister Angela in Massachusetts since mid-April.
“Angela said Jackie told her she was going to look at birds in the backyard,” Jackie’s stepdaughter Jessica told Dateline. “Fifteen minutes later, she went to check on her. And she was gone.”
Hinsdale Police Chief Susan Rathbun told Dateline Angela called authorities to report her sister missing around 11:30 a.m. that same day.
“We dispatched Fire, which was part of our search and rescue. And we notified the Massachusetts State Police, who brought in dogs for a ground search,” Chief Rathbun said, adding that a helicopter search was also conducted that afternoon. “For the initial search, obviously, you want to get boots on the ground a soon as possible. It’s a rural area, and nighttime temps weren’t the best for the way family says she was dressed.”
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Jessica, who lives in California, said Angela called family members shortly after notifying police.
“Angela lives in the Berkshire Mountains, which are very wooded,” Jessica said. “She didn’t take her cell phone, ID, or extra clothes, and we don’t think she had cash on her.”
Jessica said her father, Jackie’s husband Nate Coutinho, was in Florida at the time Jackie disappeared. He, along with Jackie’s other stepdaughter and two daughters who live in Maine, all traveled to Hinsdale to help search for Jackie.
“There’s a lake about a half mile behind Angela’s house, but it’s not very deep. It’s only 25 feet deep at the deepest part,” Jessica told Dateline. “The Massachusetts State Police had a dive team search the lake, but they didn’t find anything.”
Chief Rathbun said search and rescue teams have scoured surrounding woods “at least half a dozen times” since Jackie disappeared, and authorities have checked nearby hospitals and trains for any signs of the missing mother.
“We’ve checked every box we can think of. But besides the police station and the fire station, there’s not many surveillance cameras,” she said. “I’ve got no gas station in town. I’ve got no bank in town. So when you talk about cameras – it’s not that we didn’t check them, it’s just there’s nothing to check.”
Chief Rathbun continued to say that police have no leads and no evidence of foul play in Jackie’s disappearance.
“At this point, she’s a consenting 53-year-old adult. So there’s not much more police action, because there’s no criminal activity,” Chief Rathbun told Dateline. “There is no theory. There is no rhyme or reason. We’re hoping for the family that she’s out there happy and safe.”
Jackie’s stepdaughter Jessica told Dateline she and her sisters are clinging to each other during what has been a difficult time.
“Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. My sisters and I, though, as a result of this, have never been closer. And honestly, that’s the only blessing -- if there is any blessing -- on this whole thing,” Jessica said. “Us four girls and Angela and my mom have been trying to do everything we can.”
Jackie Coutinho is described as being 5’6” tall and weighing about 130 lbs., with gray/blonde hair. She was last seen wearing a purple fleece jacket, a red hooded sweater, blue jeans and white sneakers. If you have any information on the circumstances surrounding Jackie’s disappearance, please call the Hinsdale Police Department at 413-655-0201.
Bianca Hillier covers missing person and homicide cases for NBC News.