Chanell N. Clanton has been missing since Friday, and her mother, Christine Cook, says it's hard to imagine that the girl would run away.
Chanell, 16, of Woodlawn, is active in her church Bible study group, has gotten good grades at City College and always lets her mother know where she is.
But she also has personal problems. She is five months' pregnant, according to Baltimore County police.
"I still don't believe she would run away," Ms. Cook said yesterday.
But in an odd way, Ms. Cook is hoping that Chanell has run away because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
"It's hard. I haven't had much sleep," Ms. Cook said tearfully. "I see the pictures. I see her room. It's very hard."
The teen-age girl was last seen getting on a Mass Transit Administration bus about 3 p.m. Friday after leaving school in Northeast Baltimore. Chanell was expected at the home of an aunt, but she never arrived.
She called the aunt twice Friday evening, once at 8 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. During the second call, she said she was at Security Square Mall and was going to her aunt's house but had no cab fare. Ms. Cook said her daughter sounded distressed or frightened during the second call.
"We do know that she was fine at 8 o'clock. 8:00. We know that she was in some distress at 11:30," she said.
At first, both Ms. Cook and police believed that Chanell was in the company of Richard Towson, a 17-year-old West Baltimore youth with whom she became a pen pal while he was serving a sentence at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown for a handgun violation. Towson has since been released from prison and is on probation, according to Department of Parole and Probation records.
Ms. Cook said she talked with Towson by phone in December and asked him not to contact her daughter again.
Towson was also being sought by Baltimore City police since he was charged in a warrant in the May 6 fatal shooting of Sterling Ingram, a 30-year-old married father of three, during a robbery at a carryout in the 1800 block of Edmondson Ave.
Troy D. Friend, 18, of the 600 block of Brice St., also was charged in the killing.
Towson reportedly heard from a friend that he was being sought for questioning in the Clanton youth's disappearance and called Ms. Cook shortly after midnight yesterday to tell her he had nothing to do with it.
Ms. Cook said the phone call convinced her that Towson was telling the truth.
"I really believe that he was being sincere about the whereabouts of my daughter," she said.
Later in the morning, Towson was arrested by city homicide detectives at a friend's house in the 4600 block of Manordene Road in Southwest Baltimore. When police questioned him, he claimed he had not seen the girl recently. Police said there was no sign of her at the house.
Towson is not believed to be the father of the child Chanell is carrying, Baltimore County police said.
Yesterday, Ms. Cook made two pleas before television cameras. The first was to her daughter, in case she did run away, asking her to come home. "Chanell, if you can hear me, no one is going to hurt you, no one is going to harm you. Our main concern is with your safety," she said.And then, to a possible captor: "Please allow my daughter to come home right now."