A Towson State University freshman missing from campus since last week was located early Thursday, alive and well in a Howard Johnson hotel in Culver City, Calif.
Charonda Parker's disappearance had prompted a nationwide search. Campus police tracked her across the country, tracing her movements through a trail of automatic teller receipts and a personal check she wrote Saturday in Boston for a plane to San Francisco.
Her parents came to Towson from their home in Brooklyn, N.Y., and waited for word of their missing 18-year-old daughter. Campus police circulated fliers. On Tuesday, members of the Black Student Union held a candlelight vigil.
Police also canvassed local merchants and learned that Miss Parker had bought a winter coat and some books a few days before her disappearance.
"We had a good feeling she was at least alive," said Col. Stephen Murphy, chief of police for Towson State. "Whether she was taken across the country by force was still an issue."
The search ended at 1 a.m. yesterday when police discovered her name on the hotel's register. Culver City detectives asked her to speak with her parents on the phone, but she refused, police said. When her father called her back, she hung up on him, police said.
She assured Culver City police that she left Towson voluntarily and alone, said Colonel Murphy.
"She's 18. She's an adult," he said. "She's using her own money out of her own bank account. She can do whatever she wants."
The motive for her sudden, cross-country trek remains a mystery.
Kim Adams, who had lived with Miss Parker in a campus dorm since the semester began in January, described her roommate as a quiet, reserved person who seemed to have lost interest in school.
"I'm just glad she left voluntarily and no foul play was involved," said Miss Adams.
Miss Parker was last seen on campus last Thursday morning, apparently preparing for another day of classes. Miss Adams reported her missing Friday. Police searched the young woman's room and determined that a canvas bag was missing, but her school books, suitcases, toothbrush and other toiletries were still there.
"When somebody's gone so long, you don't know what to think," said Kathy Williams, director of university relations for Towson State. "We're extremely relieved."