The president of a Howard County food marketing company has been missing since Sunday night, when he was seen walking away from a party at his condominium complex overlooking the Inner Harbor. Baltimore police said they suspect foul play.
Co-workers and family members said Donald Allen Baker, 52, who headed McCready Marketing in Ellicott City, frequently took early evening walks but seldom strolled very far from his penthouse home at the HarborView tower off Key Highway.
"I got worried very quickly," Mr. Baker's wife, Carol, said yesterday. "This is very unusual. It was not like him to say, 'Oh, I'm going to a movie or stop off for a beer or anything.' It's just like he has vanished."
City police are asking for the public's help in solving the mystery.
Officer Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, a police spokeswoman, said the detective in charge of the case suspects foul play because Mr. Baker had never disappeared before and had left without his wallet, car keys and money.
"He was very methodical and organized," Mrs. Baker said. "He was almost a work-alcoholic. He works, and he comes home."
Mrs. Baker said she last saw her husband about 8 p.m. Sunday in HarborView's downstairs recreation room, where about 30 residents had gathered for a monthly party to welcome new neighbors.
Mr. Baker left for a walk, chatted with the doorman and disappeared, his wife said.
He was wearing a yellow sweater, gray slacks and black loafers. He had Rolex watch and a gold wedding band, inscribed, "To Don with love."
He left his wallet and car keys on top of his briefcase in his study. Mrs. Baker said her husband usually went to bed at 9 p.m., because he arose early for work.
When Mr. Baker did not return to the party by 9 p.m., Mrs. Baker said, she went back upstairs, thinking he had returned. Finding that he was not there, she called one of her two sons, Chris, 24, who drove to Baltimore from Columbia. Her other son, Jeremy, 20, is vacationing in Cancun.
About 2 a.m., Mrs. Baker called police.
She said no money is missing from the couple's bank accounts, no unusual charges have shown up on credit cards and the family cars are accounted for.
Mr. Baker has been been involved in the food business since the early 1980s, when he ran a company called Chesapeake Randall Ellicott City.
Last year, that business merged with McCready Marketing, owned by Columbia-based REM Enterprises, run by Richard McCready.
As president, Mr. Baker ran the 200-person company and managed several food accounts, including those for Mars candies and French's mustard. He made sure their products were represented in stores in the Baltimore-Washington area.
"He was a very soft-spoken, level-headed individual," said Jeff Metzger, publisher of the industry trade magazine Food World. "You can't help but think something is amiss here."
Mr. Metzger, acting as a spokesman for McCready officials, added, "I think everyone in the food industry is hoping for something good out of this situation. They are concerned about all the mystery surrounding this episode.
"A guy walks out of his condo and disappears from the face of the earth. Everybody is shaken by this."
Mr. Baker is described as a white male 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing about 175 pounds. He has brown eyes, black ear-length hair, a medium build and a fair complexion.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Police Department's missing person unit at 396-2334.