Shellshocked owner searches for turtle, 78, missing from her Catonsville yard

Gloria Todd, of Catonsville, holds a flier she created for her longtime pet turtle, Moses.
Gloria Todd, of Catonsville, holds a flier she created for her longtime pet turtle, Moses. (Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Moses, 78, has gone missing for more than two weeks.

His owner, 83-year-old Gloria Todd of Catonsville, believes her pet turtle was stolen from a kiddie pool in her yard Sept. 12.


A photo of Moses is on the roll-call board at the Baltimore County Police Wilkens precinct station.

He is about the size of a luncheon plate and Todd describes the male slider turtle as having yellow lines on its head, neck and shell, with long front nails and short back nails.


Moses spent hours in the plastic pool in the side yard of Todd's house when it wasn't too hot, to get some sunlight, she said.

"I was shocked that he was gone," she said. "I couldn't believe that someone would come onto my property and take something that did not belong to them, especially a living thing."

Moses was one of two tiny turtles Todd received as a gift from an aunt when she was 5, she said. The other one, whose name she did not remember, did not live long.

Usually, Moses is kept inside, in a washtub in her laundry room. After a veterinarian recommended Moses get more sunlight, he advised Todd to place him in a pool outside on nice days.

It's something she said she and husband of more than 60 years, Pete, have done for more than a decade, usually for a couple hours at a time, several days a week, particularly late in the summer.

Her husband usually brings Moses out to the pool after filling it at what he called a modest depth, so the turtle wouldn't be able to climb out over the edge of it from the surface of the water.

"He loves it," she said. "You could almost see him smile."

Pete Todd said the turtle would often be outside when neither he nor his wife were home.

"On private property, you don't expect something like that," he said about the alleged theft.

Slider turtles are typically found in water and normally live to be 30 or 40, according to Kevin Barrett, reptile and amphibian collection and conservation manager for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

It's difficult to define the slider turtle's native habitat, he said, because many kept as pets have been released or escaped. They were inexpensive and commonly sold as pets, he said. As a result, they have established themselves around the world as an invasive species.

It's important for the turtles to get sunlight, as they are cold-blooded and don't generate their own body heat, Barrett said.


With assistance from a local office supply store, Gloria Todd created fliers and distributed them throughout the community and to police.

"They didn't seem too interested," she said about the initial reaction from police. "They report bicycles and lawn mowers and this turtle is much more important to me than a bicycle or a lawn mower."

She heard from police Sept. 27. They are considering Moses as stolen property, she said.

In more than 20 years of law enforcement, this is the first time Baltimore County police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter has seen a report for a missing turtle, whose picture is posted at the precinct station, Wachter said in a Friday email.

Gloria Todd's longtime hairdresser, Glenn Boller, put a flier on the window of his business, Catonsville Hair Co.

He described her as compassionate and said she takes care of feral cats and feeds wildlife in her yard.

Since Moses went missing, Boller said Todd has been withdrawn.

"It's upsetting me because I know her personally and it's upsetting her," he said.

Gloria Todd remains hopeful that Moses — who she described as a sweet and innocent soul — will be returned home.

"I miss him terribly," she said.

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