Correction to This Article
This article misstated the name of the street where Hannah E. Wheeling lived. Hannah E. Wheeling, 65, lived in the 200 block of Courtland Place, not Portland Place, in Bel Air in Harford County.

Md. teacher found dead at Cheltenham youth detention center

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 19, 2010

An educator at a state-run juvenile detention center in Prince George's County was found dead on the facility's grounds Thursday, and her death is being investigated as a homicide, police said.

Maryland State Police identified the woman as Hannah E. Wheeling, 65, of the 200 block of Portland Place in Bel Air in Harford County.

Another employee at the Cheltenham Youth Facility found Wheeling's partially clothed body about 7:45 a.m. in a secluded area just outside the Murphy Cottage -- a building beyond the facility's fence that houses 20 boys deemed not dangerous to themselves or others, police said. Wheeling taught general studies at the cottage, police said.

Two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Wheeling appeared to have been sexually assaulted and bludgeoned.

Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman, said it appeared that she had been attacked, but he declined to say by whom or why. He said investigators were questioning employees and youths housed at Cheltenham, which is on Frank Tippett Road.

"Investigators aren't speculating at this point," Shipley said. "They aren't ruling anything out."

The youths housed in the Murphy Cottage were allowed to walk throughout the building and would have had access to the area where Wheeling's body was found, Shipley said. Two sources familiar with the situation said all those youths had been accounted for. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case on the record.

Wheeling, a twice-divorced mother of two, was a good neighbor and "a good ol' gal" who seemed interested in her work and prepared diligently each day, said a neighbor, who asked not to be identified to protect his privacy.

Her long drive to Cheltenham started at 5 a.m., but she seemed to enjoy the trip, he said.

"Whatever would happen, with money or whatever, she'd say, 'The Lord will take care of it,' " the neighbor said.

The slaying is a serious setback for a juvenile facility with a checkered past, although it remains unclear what happened in this case.

Cheltenham is operated by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and houses about 100 teenagers awaiting trial or sentencing from Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties.

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