Within an hour yesterday afternoon, the body of a missing Severna Park mother was found in Edgewater and the father of her three daughters was charged with first-degree murder in her death, Anne Arundel County police said.
Detectives found the body of Paula Lynn Edwards, 34, of the 900 block of Old County Road at noon.
She was reported missing by her family Sunday morning after failing to return from a salon appointment Saturday.
Being held without bail at the Jennifer Road detention center last night was Howard Alexander Jr., 33, of no fixed address.
County police spokesman Officer Charles Ravenell said Alexander had told police where to find Edwards' body, which was in a wooded area behind a relative's house on Shesley Road.
Police said yesterday that they were awaiting a ruling from the state medical examiner on the cause of death.
Police said Edwards and Alexander had an off-and-on relationship.
They suspect that Edwards was killed after a domestic dispute, Ravenell said.
Police issued an alert for Edwards on Monday after finding her black 1999 Isuzu Rodeo in the parking lot of Bay Mart on Old Mill Bottom Road.
Edwards' relatives said they knew Saturday that something was wrong. Edwards, who frequently used her cellular phone, had not called or arrived home after her appointment, her cousin Regina Laster said.
"By that night, we were worried, worried, worried," she said yesterday.
Edwards, an Annapolis school bus driver, lived in Severna Park with her three children, ages 15, 5 and 21 months, and her mother, Betty Edwards.
The eldest daughter, Monica, told Laster that she visited her father Sunday and asked him whether he had seen her mother. He told Monica he hadn't, Laster said.
Laster, 52, of Annapolis, said her cousin was active in Old Mount Mariah AME Church in Annapolis, where she was a lifelong member. "Anything the church wanted, Paula would do it and do it well," said Laster. "She loved her church, loved her kids."
No services for Edwards have been arranged, Laster said.
Court records show that Alexander, a longtime Annapolis resident, was found guilty of battery in 1992, battery and assault in 1996, and second-degree assault in 1998. All of the cases were in Anne Arundel County.
Edwards' relatives said they knew little about her relationship with Alexander. Laster said the two met when they were teen-agers.
The couple's younger daughters, Micayla and Mia, were still "crying for their mother yesterday," Laster said. She said the eldest child was "right in the middle," trying to cope with her mother's death and comprehend that her father has been charged.