A 29-year-old man was to be charged with first-degree murder last night after searchers found the body of a Crofton woman following a six-hour search through dense forests, swamps and underbrush.
The body of Gwyn Dixon Criswell, 42, of the 1500 block Eversham Court, was found a short distance behind the Crofton Library, located in Crofton Square at the intersection of routes 3 and 424.
She had been missing since Sunday afternoon, when she failed to return home from what was supposed to be a short shopping trip.
Police said yesterday that Steven Gregory Anderson, who has no fixed address, will be charged in her death. Police had identified him as a suspect earlier in the day.
Anderson had been in custody since Sunday night, when police reported finding him with the victim's car in downtown Annapolis.
Police spokesman V. Richard Molloy said searchers found the body after asking Criswell's husband if there was any place his wife may have gone after shopping. Molloy said Criswell told police she sometimes went to the library.
Molloy said police, who had spent much of the day combing Crofton Park, were surprised to find the body, especially after coming so close to leaving empty-handed. A cause and time of death had not been determined last night, but Molloy said "there was no obvious cause."
He said the body was found on top of the ground, and "there wasn't any great attempt made to hide it."
Searchers had been concentrating on the the 60-acre park, which is covered with heavy brush and dense forest. The park, near Crofton Middle School, also contains many trails, roads, streams and swamps.
Police searched from 3 to 4:30 a.m. yesterday morning, using a State Police helicopter with an infra-red camera and bloodhounds from the Prince George's County police department. But Molloy said that search was hampered by rain.
Searchers reorganized and resumed combing the park at noon yesterday, with a team of 35 police officers and detectives. Molloy said they were planning to call off the search at dark.
Police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Bisesi said Criswell left her home sometime between 10 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. She first stopped at an automatic teller machine, then went shopping at the Basics Food Warehouse in Crofton Square.
At 4:15 p.m., her husband called Crofton police and reported her missing. He gave them a description of Criswell and of her car, a 1988 white Plymouth Sundance.
At about 8:30 p.m., a person reported a purse-snatching outside the Thrift Inn, in the 2500 block Riva Road. Molloy said the description given of the get-away car matched that of Criswell's car.
An hour later, a police officer spotted a Plymouth parked outside the Shamrock Liquor Store on West Street in Annapolis, and Anderson was taken into custody.
A police source said Anderson made statements that implicated himself in Criswell's slaying, but later recanted his story. The source said Anderson has made several different statements while in custody.
The source also said Anderson told police he dumped the body in Crofton Park.
Around 4 p.m., police charged Anderson with armed robbery in connection with the purse snatching and theft in connection with stealing the car. It was then they publicly named him as a suspect in Criswell's death.
Searchers found Criswell's body at about 5:30 p.m. behind the library, about three-quarters of a mile from the park. Police would not say if they found any other evidence in the woods.
Anderson is scheduled to be arraigned today.