Missing son, 21, leaves family no clue

April 20, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

From the tastefully decorated living room of their home on a quiet street in Severna Park, Ronald and Dorothy Cole worry about what has become of the second oldest of their three sons.

"We have no clue whatsoever about what happened to him," said Mr. Cole, 57, of the disappearance of his son James, 21, who has not been seen or heard from since the night of April 10.

"He had no reason not to come home," added his mother, Dorothy, also 57.

James, called "Jimmy" by his family and friends, was last seen by Donna Robbins, 33, a waitress at the Shangri-La, a restaurant and cocktail lounge in the Park Plaza shopping center in the 500 block of Ritchie Highway.

"He came in with his brother," said Ms. Robbins, referring to Jeffrey Cole, 20. "He was drinking a few beers and his brother was drinking coffee. He said he was going over to Mr. Gingerbread because they were having beer for a dollar."

Ms. Robbins was referring to the Gingerbread Man, another restaurant and lounge in the same shopping center.

Jimmy Cole went there alone and was joined briefly by his brother, who later went home.

Jimmy Cole returned to the Shangri-La about 1:30 a.m., Ms. Robbins recalled. "He wasn't very drunk, but he slurred his words when he talked," she remembered. She said she went to finish some work because the restaurant was about to close. When she came back, "about 10 to 15 minutes later," Jimmy Cole was gone, she said.

Although the house in the 500 block of Hodges Lane where he lives with his parents is only four blocks away from the restaurant, Jimmy Cole never made it home, his father said.

"He never came into the house. I'm used to staying up late, so I would have known if he had come in," said Mr. Cole.

Nor did he show up for work at the K&J Maintenance Co. the next day, said Mr. Cole, even though he was scheduled to start a new assignment with the company and he had yet to pick up his paycheck.

Mary Collison, 21, his girlfriend of three years, last talked to him by telephone about 1:30 p.m. that Sunday, she said.

"He was in a really good mood," she recollected, asking the same question that has baffled her and the Cole family: Why would a 21-year-old man who loved his parents, girlfriend, brothers and job suddenly disappear?

Anne Arundel County police are distributing a picture and asking for help in finding him. Officer Randy Bell, police spokesman, said the department has neither ruled out nor confirmed foul play. "We're still looking for him," said Officer Bell.

Mrs. Cole worried that something happened to her son as he took short cuts along bicycle paths from the restaurant to his home.

"It probably wasn't a good idea to walk that bike trail," she said. But her husband said the bike trail was well-lighted.

The possibility of foul play is something Mr. Cole has pushed to the back of his mind.

"I'm trying to be neutral in my feelings. I have to hold strong. My wife is worried because she's thinking of things that may have happened to him. I'm trying not to," he said.

"The thing that has kept me together is prayer," said Mrs. Cole, who with her husband belongs to the Church of the Nazarene Marley Park. Church members have offered prayers for Jimmy Cole, his father said.

In the meantime, the Coles have to live with the waiting and the uncertainty about what has become of their middle child.

"Every day seems like a month," said Mrs. Cole.

Jimmy Cole is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, about 140 pounds, with shoulder-length dirty-blond hair. He has a tattoo of a spider on his forearm and was wearing a green Loyola baseball cap, a rugby shirt, jeans and beige and black shoes the night he disappeared.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Kim Smith at 222-3569.

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