The last time Carolyn Butler saw her 33-year-old son was at 11 a.m. March 25, when he met her in the mail room at a downtown Annapolis office building to pick up some money.
Jeffrey Tooles never came home that evening, and now, more than three weeks later, Butler says it is getting more and more difficult to think her son is all right.
"There are so many rumors," she said. "We follow up on all of them, but we still have come up with nothing. I've been a little negative lately. That's not like him, to go off."
Tooles started working at the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services on West Street delivering mail five years ago. Six months ago, he moved in with his mother and stepfather, Joseph Butler, on Glenwood Street, so he could be with his 7-year-old daughter, Danielle. He usually got off work around 5 p.m. and would be home by 9.
His mother said if he planned to stay with friends for an evening or weekend, he would always call.
Tooles' disappearance has brought community residents out in force. Zastrow Simms, a community relations specialist for the Annapolis Housing Authority, said neighbors have formed search parties but so far have found no trace of the missing man.
Tomorrow, Simms is organizing a candlelight vigil from 6 to 8 p.m. in front of the Stanton Community Center on West Washington Street, where Tooles' mother worked for many years helping neighborhood children.
"She has been active in the community for a decade," Simms said. "She is a strong woman. But she's a mother and it takes a toll. Nobody knows what she is going through. We know how mothers are, they fight the good fight."
Simms said he chose the community center because Tooles was last seen in the Clay Street area. "We want to bring it right back to thatsetting," he said.
Annapolis Police Department detectives have questioned neighbors and circulated photographs of Tooles. They also are encouraging local television stations to run spots on his disappearance. But police have found "no signs of foul play so far," said Officer Dermott Hickey, a police spokesman.
The Butlers had an anxiousfew days two weeks ago when an unidentified body was found washed upnear the Old Severn River Bridge. But it was not Tooles'.
Seven-year-old Danielle was most nervous about the find. "She doesn't have much to say," Butler said. "She was just glad that the body they foundwasn't her father."
Simms said it doesn't really matter how many people show up for the vigil tomorrow. "If there is just one person there who can give some information, that's fine."
Staff writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.