Woman's family fears she met with foul play

October 15, 1994|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Sun Staff Writer

The ominous discovery of Linda May Lester's bloodstained car Thursday has family members fearing the worst but praying that the missing 911 dispatcher will turn up safely.

"We're all upset, but still hoping and praying for the best," said her father, Herbert D. Battle, 56, who was surrounded by family and friends yesterday at his Glyndon home. "Now that her car has been found, we're pretty sure there is foul play. She would never, never, never disappear like that."

Ms. Lester's gray 1985 Mercury Cougar was found by a maintenance man shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday, backed into a space behind the Ramada Inn in the 1700 block of Belmont Ave. in Woodlawn, said E. Jay Miller, a Baltimore County police spokesman. Ms. Lester, 31, was not found.

"There was some blood on the trunk lid and some on the rear bumper and a slight amount on the driver's side door, leading us to believe there is foul play and possibly a homicide here," Mr. Miller said.

Ms. Lester, who has worked for the last four years as a civilian police dispatcher and a 911 operator, was last seen leaving work about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday at the county communications center on Bosley Avenue in Towson. Police said a co-worker saw her driving from the garage.

She was supposed to pick up her 2-year-old daughter, Brianna, from her estranged husband's Randallstown home but she never arrived, police said. According to Circuit Court documents, Ms. Lester has been separated from her husband, Donald W. Lester, since Jan. 24.

Family members said their three-year marriage ended badly, with frequent arguments. In court records of their divorce proceeding, Ms. Lester charged that her husband "has on a number of occasions threatened to kill [Ms. Lester] if she chose to separate. . . . "

Court records also show that Mr. Lester denied those charges and said that "he attempted to get his wife to go to family counseling in the hope that there was some hope or expectation of a reconciliation between the parties, but she refused."

Reached last night, Mr. Lester declined to comment.

A police search of Ms. Lester's Comill Court home in Owings Mills revealed nothing unusual, Mr. Miller said.

"We did find a message on the recorder," Mr. Miller said. "Her husband had called and left some sort of message asking her why she didn't show up."

That message convinced Ms. Lester's sister that something was wrong.

"I was supposed to meet her at her house [on Tuesday]," said Christine Battle, 18. "I didn't make it and didn't think anything of it until her co-workers called the next day. Then her husband called and said she didn't show up. I went by her house and knocked on the door, but she didn't answer.

"That's just not like her," Ms. Battle said. "Wherever her daughter is, she calls. Whenever she's late, she calls. If she knows she's going to be home real late, she'll call me to pick up her daughter. Linda would never not call."

Police describe Ms. Lester as a black female with Asian features and long brown hair, 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. She was last seen wearing a white shirt and black-and-white checkered pants.

Her father described her as a "loving, intelligent person who was well-liked and always helping people."

While the investigation continues, the small crowd at the Battle home will continue waiting for more news. The Battle's front yard was filled with cars yesterday as people streamed in through the front door to lend support. They were greeted by Brianna, who is unaware that police are still searching for her mother.

The scene was painful for Ms. Lester's mother.

"It's like a bad dream or something," said a weeping Kague O. Battle, 58. "I'm scared. I just want her to come through the door or call. I don't think I can stand much more of this."

Police are asking anyone with information to call the communications center at 887-2198.

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