North Carolina Honor Student Found Dead in Baltimore

by Chaney Bostic

( –The search for a North Carolina teenager missing in Baltimore since December 28 has ended tragically. The body of Phylicia Simone Barnes was found April 20 floating in the Susquehanna River 40 miles from Baltimore.

While walking down a Baltimore street; to get something to eat, 16-year-old Barnes went missing three days after Christmas. Since that time police could find no one who had seen or spoken to her.

The honor student at Union Academy in Monroe, N.C., was in Baltimore visiting her half sister and other family members when she went missing. She was last seen in the afternoon of Dec. 28, walking out of the apartment door wearing a blue pea coat. There had been no calls or text messages coming from her phone and she had not used her credit card since the day of her disappearance.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the police have no suspects, motives; nor cause of death yet.

During the last press conference held on February 2, Officer Terrence McLarney of the Baltimore Police Department reported that they were doing everything they could to find Phylicia. He said they had a dozen homicide detectives and a handful of FBI agents working the case. They indicated early that foul play was suspected. But, the more than 80 tips turned up no firm leads.

Phylicia Barnes mother, Janice Sallis, had been visiting high-crime neighborhoods in search of her daughter. But, Officer McLarney said, “The neighborhood in which she went missing wasn’t a bad neighborhood. There is not that many people in Baltimore that don’t know Phylicia Barnes is missing.”

He said the media did a great job in covering the story. But there has been significant concern that the national media disparately publicizes the deaths of White women. It is not clear whether national attention would have made a difference in this case since medical examiners reportedly have not ruled out the possibility that her body has been in the river since the day she disappeared. Last week, flyers still blew in the wind, covering the streets of Baltimore when news broke of the discovery of her body.

The Sun reports that her family has not known of Barnes traveling to the area around the Conowingo Dam, where her body was discovered. Her half-brother, Bryan Barnes, told the Sun that it’s no way that she, on a whim, traveled 40 miles away. "That doesn't make any type of sense," he said. "She had no reason to be there, no reason whatsoever."

A twist in the story has caused an extra measure of ministry. Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told the Sun that investigators are not only awaiting her cause of death, but the identification of a second body found in the river a few miles south of Phylicia's. It was the body of a young male, but it is not known whether his death was connected to Phylicia’s.

Guglielmi said in the Sun interview that if the other body is in some way related to the case, "that opens up a whole other connection we have to investigate."

Editor-in-Chief, Hazel Trice Edney contributed to this story.

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