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Security video only lead in man's disappearance


Donald Allen Baker, the Baltimore businessman who disappeared from his swank Inner Harbor condominium this week, was videotaped leaving the building alone and in no apparent distress, police said yesterday.

With no leads, no witnesses and not a clue to the 52-year-old marketing executive's whereabouts, Baltimore police are hoping that an enhanced version of a videotape shot by security cameras at the HarborView Towers condominiums might at least show which direction Mr. Baker headed when he left the building.

"It's not much, but it's all we have," said Sgt. Edward Dunlap of the missing persons unit. "It's a little fuzzy. But we're trying to enhance it to see if it shows anything more. Right now, we don't have any substantial leads to say one way or the other whether there's foul play involved or not. But we have to assume there is.

"We need all the cooperation and help we can get."

Mr. Baker's family hired a private investigator to look into his disappearance, but declined to discuss what the investigator might have learned. No reward has been offered for information leading to Mr. Baker's whereabouts.

Meanwhile, police at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and U.S. Customs agents said yesterday that they were not asked to be on the lookout for Mr. Baker and have not been asked to assist in the investigation.

And Baltimore police were still waiting for an opportunity to interview Mr. Baker's son, Jeremy, and a business partner, Richard McCready -- who are out of the country, police said.

Managers at HarborView Towers refused to make public the videotape that shows Mr. Baker leaving a party in the building's ground floor recreation room Sunday night. When he failed to return five hours later, his wife reported him missing to police.

"We have nothing to add that hasn't been in the news already," a family member said yesterday. "There's no point in making any other public comment right now."

Friends and co-workers describe Mr. Baker as a meticulous workaholic, a man of habits who rarely varied his schedule or indulged in impulsive behavior.

"That's what has us all so worried," said Nancy Caplan, personnel director for Columbia-based REM Enterprises, where Mr. Baker was president of a food brokerage subsidiary. "This is totally out of character.

"And he would have no motive for disappearing on his own. He is extremely well-regarded. There has never been a hint of financial trouble. He has a wonderful family and a good job working in a solid company. You're not talking about one of those guys who just walks off. You're talking about one of the nicest gentlemen you'd ever want to meet."

Nor did Mr. Baker behave like a man on the run the night he disappeared, according to a statement given to police by his wife, Carol.

The couple left their condominium about 8 p.m. Sunday to attend an informal gathering in the HarborView recreation room. A short time later, security cameras captured a man who looked like Mr. Baker leaving the building. His wife saw him leave, but said she assumed he was going for his evening walk.

Mr. Baker left his car keys, wallet and cash upstairs on his briefcase, his wife said, adding that her husband made no unusual withdrawals from the couple's bank accounts or charges on their credit cards. None of the family's cars was missing.

Mr. Baker was wearing a yellow sweater, gray slacks and black loafers. He wore a gold Rolex watch and a wedding band, inscribed "To Don with love."

"His family, his friends, his co-workers are all in shock right now," said Dick Bestany, a spokesman for REM Enterprises. "A million scenarios run through your mind at a time like this."

Police are asking that anyone with information call the missing persons unit at 396-2334.

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