Missing Cannon Elevator Operator Found Dead Tuesday

Posted February 19, 2003 at 2:44pm

The body of Fifine Glaws, a longtime elevator operator in the Cannon House Office Building who had been reported missing Saturday, was found in Bethesda on Tuesday.

Glaws, who suffered from schizophrenia and had been diagnosed as developmentally delayed, lived in an adult-group home in Rockville, Md. A counselor at the home reported Glaws missing at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Montgomery County Police Department spokeswoman Lucille Baur said Wednesday.

Glaws’ body was found Tuesday afternoon outside an office building at 6600 Rockledge Dr. in Bethesda.

“The exact cause and manner of death will be determined by the state medical examiner’s office today or tomorrow,” Baur said. Although the death is being investigated by the MCPD’s Homicide Sex Division, Baur said there is “no evidence of foul play.”

Because the investigation is ongoing, Baur could not comment on whether Glaws’ death may be related to the cold weather and heavy snows that hit the D.C. area over the weekend.

Glaws, a 20-year Capitol Hill veteran, was last seen by Capitol Police officers who escorted her from the Ford House Office Building to the Capitol South Metro station between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. It is not clear if Glaws actually boarded the Metro or a bus, Baur said. “From that point on it is a mystery as to exactly what happened to her.”

Capitol Police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel said officers escorted Glaws, who was not scheduled to work Saturday, to the station, but could not otherwise comment on the investigation. The department is assisting MCPD by gathering information such as the details of Glaws’ daily routine.

Glaws, 52, began working at the Capitol in March 1983. Until her death, she was one of four elevator operators employed by the Architect of the Capitol.

In a statement, Architect Alan Hantman said, “We are greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Ms. Fifine Glaws. She did a fine job as an elevator operator in the Cannon House Office Building and was a proud member of the AOC team. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”

Glaws’ brother, Peter, described his sister as “very trusting and very warm and a wonderful human being that overcame great adversity in her life.”

“She was mentally retarded and probably faced more challenges than most people in their lifetime ever will face, and she met them all head on,” he added.

Peter Glaws recalled his sister’s upbeat attitude, always greeting Members and staff with the compliment, “You look nice today.”

Several Hill staffers who work in Cannon said they had wondered about Glaws’ recent absence.

Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the Architect’s office, recalled of Glaws, “She always told everyone that they looked nice every day. And when I first came to the Hill, I would run into her quite often. It’s quite sad, because she would always brighten up my day when I saw her.”

In 1993, Glaws gained attention when newly implemented House rules seeking to eliminate part-time employees threatened her livelihood.

Then. Rep-Arthur Ravenel (R-S.C.) came to Glaws’ defense, working with the Information, Protection and Advocacy Center for People with Disabilities to successfully lobby for special provisions to allow Glaws to continue working half-day shifts.

Glaws told The Washington Post in 1994: “I love this job. I love it. I meet friendly people. I meet Congressmen. I get the opportunity to be with normal people. It’s better than being in the group home all day. But the group home is nice. They don’t ask too much, just that you clean your room and come down to meals.”

Glaws is survived by her brother, Peter; her mother, Jeannette Glaws; two sisters, Jan Sanborn of Chocorua N.H., and Lee Narwicz of Yardley, Pa.; and nine nieces and nephews.

Funeral services are tentatively planned for Monday at St. Andrews in the Valley Episcopal Church in Tamworth , N.H.

In lieu of flowers, the Glaws family asks that donations be made to The Memorial Hospital of North Conway, N.H.