Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Teacher disappears after withdrawing $400 from bank Randallstown woman, 57, described as prompt, predictable


Relatives and friends described missing Randallstown High School teacher Gwendolyn Marie Whiten yesterday as a prompt creature of habit -- a woman who would never leave without notice.

"Happy-go-lucky," "well-liked," "competent" and "predictable" were the descriptions they had for the 57-year-old social studies teacher, whose disappearance Tuesday after withdrawing cash from a teller machine is under investigation by Baltimore County police.

"That's what's so extraordinary about this," said her son, Bennie Whiten III, 33, who flew in from Illinois yesterday. "She didn't have any problems with anyone, and there's no one to suspect."

But Mrs. Whiten -- a former parole officer -- was concerned enough about security at her Randallstown home in the 9600 block of Axehead Court to have an alarm system installed two days before she disappeared.

David A. Ferguson, a salesman for Masada Security, said he spent four hours at the Whiten home Sunday. "We discussed crime, and they were interested in moving because she said things have gotten bad in her area," Mr. Ferguson said yesterday.

His company offered to print and distribute missing-person fliers. A reward fund was begun at the Metro Food Market Provident Bank branch at 8212 Liberty Road.

Police said Mrs. Whiten left her home around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday -- presumably heading for Randallstown High.

The last sighting of Mrs. Whiten was around 6:55 a.m. when she stopped at a NationsBank ATM on Liberty Road. Police said she made the maximum withdrawal of $200 each from her checking and savings accounts.

A video of the transaction showed her wearing sunglasses, police said. Her son said she also attempted to make a withdrawal from her credit card account, but was unsuccessful because she used the wrong personal identification number.

Barry Williams, Randallstown's principal, said a department head asked him about 1 p.m. if he knew of Mrs. Whiten's whereabouts.

Mr. Williams said Mrs. Whiten, who also was on his teaching staff last year at the Rosedale alternative high school for disruptive students, would never miss a day of work without calling.

Leslie Whiten, 36, who lives with her mother, reported her missing to county police around 5 p.m. after she did not come home.

Officer Jon Krieger said police were interviewing friends and co-workers, but had not found any evidence that Mrs. Whiten was depressed or upset enough to leave without telling anyone.

Although the disappearance was deemed suspicious, investigators "have no physical evidence at this point that leads police to believe she has met with foul play," said Capt. Brian A. Uppercue, a police spokesman.

Police were looking for her gray, four-door 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier with Maryland tags XVV 181. Mrs. Whiten is 5 foot 1, 170 pounds, with brown eyes and short black hair.

Neighbor Andrea Gaskins said she is praying for Mrs. Whiten's return. "I went to church last night and asked God, 'Please bring my friend back.' "

Anyone with information was asked to call the police at 887-2198.

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