Man accused of abducting, murdering beloved teacher who went missing on walk

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Sunday, September 3, 2023

PRINCE COUNTY, Md. -- A Maryland man faces murder charges in connection with the disappearance of a beloved teacher who was abducted while out on a walk, police announced on Friday.

Mariame Sylla, 59, a teacher at Dora Kennedy French Immersion School in the Prince George's County school district, was reported missing by a family friend in late July, police said.

She went out for an evening stroll in Greenbelt on July 29 "and did not return," Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz told reporters during a press briefing on Friday.

On Aug. 1, a "concerned citizen" contacted the Prince George's County Police Department to report possible human remains found outside in Clinton, "where a dismembered body was discovered," Aziz said.

DNA testing recently confirmed the remains to be those of Sylla, police said.

The investigation led police to identify 33-year-old Harold Francis Landon III of University Park as a suspect in her murder, police said. Landon was allegedly in the park when Sylla was abducted and later identified through his vehicle, the police chief said.

Homicide detectives filed first-degree murder charges against him on Friday for the murder of Sylla, the police department said. He was scheduled to have his first appearance on Friday and a bond review possibly on Tuesday, police said.

It is unclear if Landon has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. He has been in the custody of the Department of Corrections since Aug. 1 on an unrelated assault charge, police said.

The suspect and victim do not appear to have known each other, according to Aziz, who said detectives have not yet found any connection.

A motive remains under investigation, the chief said.

"I just think we have a person who decided to go out and commit a horrific crime," Aziz said.

An autopsy is being conducted to determine Sylla's cause of death, police said. Investigators are also working to determine where and when she was murdered. Her remains were discovered about 18 miles south of her last known location.

Sylla's disappearance prompted community searches and prayer vigils in the weeks since she was reported missing.

"To all of the young people who love Miss Sylla, who we've heard from over the last few weeks, the second-grade students that she taught ... we express our condolences and grief to them," Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said at Friday's briefing. "To have a beloved member of our community taken away from us in this way is just so devastating."