Man questioned in disappearance Columbia girl, 15, missing for 3 weeks

August 12, 1993|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Staff Writer

Howard County police have questioned a 28-year-old Baltimore man about the disappearance of a 15-year-old Columbia girl who has been missing since July 22.

Police say they are not sure if Tara Allison Gladden of the 5600 block of Vantage Point Road has been the victim of foul play, but on Aug. 3 they charged her former boyfriend with sex offenses involving her and another Columbia girl.

"We're not sure if she's with [the man] or not," said Sgt. Gary Gardner, a Howard County police spokesman.

"You can't be narrow-minded in a case like this," he said. "You can't eliminate possibilities -- whether she's gone off with him, whether she's on her own, or if it's something more serious."

Curtis Aden Jamison of the 3300 block of Oakfield Ave. has been charged with fourth-degree sexual offense, battery and perverted sexual practice for his involvement with Tara. He also was charged with with second-degree rape and battery of the other girl, a resident of the 5000 block of Vantage Point Road who was 12 when police say the offenses occurred.

Mr. Jamison, who is scheduled to appear in county Circuit Court Nov. 23, turned himself in to police Aug. 3. He told police then that he was unaware of Tara's whereabouts.

Mr. Jamison posted $10,000 bond for each case and was released the same day, police said. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Baltimore man has faced similar charges in the past. He was arrested by Baltimore City police on April 7, 1992, for second-degree rape of an underage girl. That case was placed on an inactive docket on June 5, 1992, on condition that Mr. Jamison stay out of trouble, according to court records documents. Officials say that case could be reopened in light of the new and similar alleged sex offenses.

Tara, whose 16th birthday is Monday, would be a junior at Atholton High School this fall.

Howard County police first became aware of Tara's relationship with Mr. Jamison on July 16, when the girl's mother, Johanna Gladden, contacted authorities, Mrs. Gladden said.

She said she learned of Mr. Jamison after questioning her daughter about several mysterious phone calls in which the caller hung up if Tara did not answer.

When police interviewed Tara, they said they learned of visits made by Mr. Jamison to the Gladden home while Tara's parents were at work; a physically and emotionally abusive relationship that led Tara to attempt suicide; and Mr. Jamison's relations with another underage girl.

On July 26 and July 29, county police filed warrants against Mr. Jamison, charging him with having sexual relations with both girls.

According to court records, Mr. Jamison lied about his age, telling the girls he was 19 or 20, and regularly gave them money, jewelry and clothing. Police say Mr. Jamison once struck Tara after seeing her talking to a teen-age boy at school.

Tara met Mr. Jamison in April through a telephone conversation arranged by the 12-year-old he had been seeing, police say.

Although Tara has run away from home before, Mrs. Gladden said her daughter has never stayed away so long -- and never without calling. Mrs. Gladden said the fact that Tara did not take any of her personal belongings or any of Mr. Jamison's gifts has made her more anxious.

Mrs. Gladden last spoke with her daughter by phone around 10:30 a.m. July 22. Later when she came home, the basement door was open and Tara was missing.

Three weeks after she was reported missing, police say they have little to go on. A surveillance of Mr. Jamison's activities and a spot check at a friend's house in Baltimore on Aug. 5 turned up no new clues, police said.

"We're between a rock and a hard place," said Sgt. Sandy Regler of the Child Abuse Unit. "We are actively seeking to find [Tara], but it's very complicated."

Tara's disappearance has changed the lives of family members, who have been circulating posters with her picture to hotels, cabdrivers and malls.

"You don't live a normal life," Mrs. Gladden said. "You get headaches. It's very difficult. It's tough."

The phone at the Gladden home also tells of the parents' agony. A voice message says: "After a beep leave a message. If this is Tara, leave a message and let us know if you're O.K.. We love you very much, and we want you to come home."

Police are asking for help in locating the missing girl. Tara is a white female, about 5 feet, 2 inches tall, with brown eyes and brown shoulder-length hair.

Tara's family is offering a reward for information leading to her safe return. Anyone with information should call Howard County police at (410) 313-2266.

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