The Cottage is a low-security building housing about 20 youths from across Maryland deemed to pose the least security threat, as they await court proceedings.
A source close to the case says that Wheeling, 65, a general studies teacher at the facility, had last been seen the previous afternoon giving a test to one of the youths from the cottage.
Today, that youth was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree rape in connection with the offense.
Due to his age, he has not been publicly named, but the state’s attorney’s office wants the youth charged as an adult.
"Of course anybody who’s in the juvenile system is supposed to be released at 21 no matter what," said State’s Attorney for Prince George's County Glenn Ivey.
Ivey added that in adult court, "The judges have full leeway in terms of sentencing options."
A source says that the victim had been sexually assaulted, bludgeoned and strangled, and that DNA evidence on the body and at the scene linked the accused to the murder.
Allen Wolf, assistant public defender in Prince George's County, says his client maintains that he did not commit the crime. "Putting aside the question that we will get to in the course of the case, the question of whether my client committed the crime, children sometimes do things that are terrible," said Wolf, "but... [t]he person that you’re dealing with is a child with a child’s thought processes."
Wolf said he and his client were blindsided by today’s court proceedings. He said he was led to believe there would be a hearing regarding his client’s placement in a treatment-centered facility. He said he had not expected the murder and attempted rape charges to be leveled today.
A judge has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 27 to determine whether the juvenile will be charged as an adult.
Fan, Follow and Text: Get the latest from NBCWashington.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Sign up for our e-mail newsletters and get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text DCBREAKING to 622339 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)