Police, students and parents in Greenbelt, Maryland, are desperately searching for a beloved teacher who went missing last week.
Mariame Toure Sylla, 59, was last seen around 8 p.m. in the 6500 block of Lake Park Drive in Greenbelt on July 29, according to Greenbelt police. Her son says she left home to take a walk in Schrom Hills Park before she disappeared without a trace, FOX 5 D.C. reported.
The family says Sylla is a devout Muslim and that she likes to take walks in the area. Typically, she returns home by sunset to pray, but she never came back that day.
Sylla, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast, is a teacher at Dora Kennedy French Immersion School. Loved ones and students are deeply concerned for her and have posted fliers across the Greenbelt community in the hopes that someone will recognize her.
Police described Sylla as a Black female approximately 5’5″ in height and 135 lbs.
Friends and family held a vigil with law enforcement and members of the media Friday night to raise awareness for her disappearance. They gathered at 6 p.m. at Schrom Hills Park and lit candles for her.
On Friday, Greenbelt Police said an unidentified body found near the Capital Beltway in Forestville Tuesday was not Sylla, WUSA reported.
“We’re all grateful for that but she’s still out there somewhere,” said Melinda Conrad-Brown, one of the vigil’s organizers who spoke to local outlet. “So we have to find her. We have to do what we have to do to make sure that not just Prince George’s County people are aware but the whole D.C., Washington, Virginia region, because she could be anywhere.”
Sylla has taught at Dora Kennedy for 15 years and is much loved by students and parents.
“We’re still trying to get our heads around it. It doesn’t seem like it’s real,” parent George Tehan told WUSA. “She is always really good with kids.”
Parents say her disappearance has traumatized their kids.
Greenbelt Police have not yet shared any of their theories and are considering all possibilities, including foul play, as they continue their investigation.
“We continue to keep this open as a missing persons investigation, and we’ll do everything in our power to bring her back safely to our family or friends,” Greenbelt Police Chief Richard Bowers said at the vigil Friday night.
Police have asked anyone who sees or comes into contact with Sylla to contact authorities.