Emma Good had plans to attend a special anniversary service at her church on the afternoon of September 10, 1978. Knowing that her 7-year-old daughter, Telethia, wouldn’t be able to sit through the long service and the dinner that followed, she had arranged to drop Telethia off at her sister’s house just two blocks away from her own in Baltimore, Maryland.
After arriving at her sister’s home, Emma kissed Telethia goodbye and then drove three miles to Mount Sinai Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ. She was in a happy mood on the drive over, excited for a chance to see some friends at church and then socialize afterward. She had no idea that she had just seen her daughter for the last time.
Telethia spent most of the evening playing outside with a trio of girls who lived in the neighborhood. She was a happy child and enjoyed running around with her friends, though she would occasionally check in with her 17-year-old cousin so she knew she was okay. As the evening wore on, her cousin realized that she hadn’t heard the little girl’s laughter in a while. She went outside to look for her but was unable to find Telethia or any of the children she had been playing with earlier.
At first, she was only slightly concerned. Since she couldn’t see any of the children, she assumed they were all together. As darkness fell without any sign of Telethia, her cousin realized that something was wrong. Telethia never strayed far without telling someone where she was going, and she knew that she had to be home by the time the sun went down.
When Emma arrived at 10:00 pm to pick up her daughter, she walked into her worst nightmare. Her sister told her that no one had been able to find Telethia; several family members had been combing the neighborhood for more than an hour without success. Panic washed over Emma, and she immediately called the Baltimore City Police Department.
The first officers on the scene were confident that Telethia would soon be found. They tried to calm Emma down by telling her that her daughter was likely playing with friends and had lost track of time. Officers began knocking on each door on Montpelier Street, where Telethia had last been seen. Their initial optimism began to wane when it became clear that no one in the neighborhood had any idea where the little girl might be.
Emma told police that Telethia normally stayed close to home, rarely straying from the two-block area between her home and her aunt’s home. On rare occasions, she would go to Clifton Park or Lake Montebello, but only if she were with a large group of friends and never without telling someone she was going there. Officers were sent to take a cursory look at each location, but nothing was found.
By Monday morning, Baltimore City police officers felt an increased sense of urgency. They had expected to find Telethia quickly, but it now looked as if she was no longer in the area. Although they had not found anything to indicate that foul play had taken place, they knew that the streets of Baltimore were no place for a young child to be wandering alone. Hoping she had simply gotten lost while playing and couldn’t find her way home, they expanded the search area.
Around three dozen officers scoured Clifton Park on Monday. The park, spread out over 260 acres, had countless areas where a child could be hidden. Several K-9 units were brought in to assist in the search, and a helicopter was dispatched to fly over the area. By nightfall, there was still no sign of the missing girl. The search of the park continued throughout the day on Tuesday and finished up that evening. The entire park had been thoroughly searched, but no clues to Telethia’s whereabouts had been found.
On Wednesday and Thursday, large-scale searches of the area surrounding Lake Montebello were conducted. Although helicopters were of little use above the heavily wooded terrain, several search dogs were brought in to comb through the area. They found some clothing discarded among the trees, but it was from an adult male and appeared to have been outside for a long time. Investigators collected it as evidence, but eventually determined that it had no connection to the missing girl.
By Friday, it seemed clear that Telethia was not going to be found in the immediate area. Although several more searches would be conducted, police began to concentrate on more investigative work. Detectives were sent to interview Telethia’s family, friends, and neighbors in the hopes of learning more about what was going on in the child’s life at the time she went missing.
Telethia had been adopted by Emma and Vernon Good in Newark, New Jersey when she was just six months old; the family moved to Baltimore when Telethia was a toddler. Vernon and Emma had divorced in 1978, with Emma retaining primary custody of their daughter. Vernon still played an active role in Telethia’s life, seeing her every other weekend throughout the year as well as two weeks over summer vacation.
Shortly before she went missing, Telethia began asking her mother questions about adoption; it was clear that someone had said something in front of her that made her question her parentage. Emma, who hadn’t planned on telling her until she was a little older, was taken aback by the questions; Telethia stated that she heard adoption only happened to kids that nobody wanted. Emma did her best to reassure the child that she was well-loved and certainly wanted, but Telethia wasn’t old enough to fully understand the adoption process and seemed to be slightly troubled about it. Still, she hadn’t mentioned the subject again and her family didn’t believe it had anything to do with her disappearance.
Detectives interviewed Vernon Good several times; they also searched his home and spoke with his neighbors after hearing rumors that Telethia had been seen there. They eventually determined that he was not involved in her disappearance; he had seen her shortly before she went missing as she spent the last two weeks of her summer vacation with him, but hadn’t spoken to her since then.
The day before Telethia vanished, she had gone shopping with her mother to get some new clothes and supplies for the upcoming school year. Mother and daughter enjoyed lunch together, and Telethia had her photograph taken at one of the local portrait studios before they returned home. She had been in a good mood; she loved school and was excited about starting second grade and seeing all her friends.
Detectives continued to question residents of the Baltimore neighborhood where Telethia had last been seen, but they received few tips in the case. One person reported seeing a suspicious-looking man in the area around the time that Telethia disappeared, but they were unable to provide police with a description of him, making the tip essentially useless.
As time went on, the case began to grow cold. None of the investigators wanted to give up — they were all emotional about the fact that such a young girl was still missing — but no new tips were coming in and they had exhausted all leads. They had no physical evidence to suggest foul play, but noted that there was no way Telethia could have survived long on her own; detectives admitted that they believed she had been the victim of a crime.
In October, an elderly woman who lived in a local nursing home called the Baltimore City Police to report that she was having dreams about Telethia and believed that she knew where her body could be found. Detectives were extremely skeptical, but were too desperate for information to dismiss the woman outright. Using the information the woman provided, they searched several areas around Lake Clifton and the Druid Hill Reservoir, but found nothing to indicate Telethia had been there.
Over the years, detectives have occasionally reviewed the case file on Telethia’s disappearance in the hopes of finding something that had been overlooked, but the investigation has been cold for decades. There is little chance the case will be solved unless someone with first-hand information finally comes forward, but they still hold out hope that they will one day learn what happened to Telethia so that her family can have some measure of closure.
Telethia Good was 7 years old when she went missing in 1978. She has brown eyes and black hair, and at the time of her disappearance she was 3 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 60 pounds. She was last seen wearing a blue T-shirt with the words “Collington Square” on the front and a pair of blue gaucho jeans. If you have any information about Telethia, please contact the Baltimore Police Department at 443–984–7395.