Body Of Phylicia Barnes Found, Investigation Continues

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The mystery surrounding what happened to North Carolina high school student Phylicia Barnes grows deeper. Police recovered her body. Now the focus shifts to figuring out how she died.

Mike Hellgren has more on the investigation.       

At this point, police are not saying that she was murdered. They say she could’ve been in the Susquehanna River for months, and they needed dental records to identify her. 

The search for Phylicia Barnes, 17, ended near the Conowingo Dam. Police found her naked. They say she showed no outward signs of trauma.

“When you put a body in a cold body of water, it will stay a pretty much intact for a long period of time,” said Col. Terrence Sheridan, Maryland State Police.

Investigators have not ruled out an accident or foul play and pledge to find out what happened and bring closure to the family of this missing honor student.

“This is the worst possible news you could tell a mother, and it’s the last bit of news they ever wanted to hear,” said Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, Baltimore City Police.

The first phase of the investigation lasted almost four months and became one of the biggest missing persons cases in Baltimore history, involving more than half the homicide squad.

“We’re now at stage one of a new phase of the investigation,” Bealefeld said. “So, there’s a lot of work now that needs to be done.”

Police say they don’t know how Barnes got so far—45 miles from where she first vanished.

They also don’t know the identification of another man found with her in the raging waters near the Conowingo Dam.

“His cause and manner of death has not been determined, but the medical examiner has indicated that it is a black male, 6’4”, 240 pounds,” Sheridan said.

“All of us since that fateful day in December had been praying and hopeful for a different outcome,” Bealefeld said.

Barnes has been found, but the mystery surrounding her disappearance has only deepened.

“If someone is responsible for the death of these people, we want to make sure we have all the evidence we can,” Sheridan said.

The forensics, the testing of these bodies, could take weeks to complete. That is information that is critical in solving this case.

Kelly McPherson continues our complete coverage with stunned reaction from friends and family.

As recently as two weeks ago, volunteers and police have been looking for Phylicia Barnes.

From the beginning, her family told WJZ they feared the worst.

“I think somebody might have taken her,” her half-sister said nearly four months ago.

“This isn’t a runaway; this isn’t a child that’s having a bad day,” her father, Russell Barnes, said then.

Four months later, police have discovered and identified the North Carolina teen’s body.

“It’s going to be hard to realize that she’s not here with us anymore,” said her friend Chelsea Carter, of Monroe, N.C.

Her half-sister’s Northwest Baltimore neighborhood has mixed emotions.

“My heart is sad. This is a sad situation,” said one neighbor.

“After three months… I can’t really say much. I just pray for the family,” said another.

People who live in Northwest Baltimore where Phylicia was last seen alive have grown attached to the teen over the last four months.

“Phylicia was a young girl, and she has not seen life or been anywhere at the age of 16,” said Elsie Jones.

And they’re reminded of their own teenage children.

“She travels a lot by herself, and I did become more protective—me and her father–because of what happened,” said Ursula Dorsey. “It hit really close to home.”

After expressing their feelings of relief, now neighbors are wondering about that other body that was found in the river and who did this to Barnes.

Stay with WJZ.COM for continuing coverage of this investigation.

More from Mike Hellgren
  • SouthCarolina


    • Robert

      This is another tragic story that should not have happen to such a promising young lady. My prayers goes out to the family and friends of Phylicia Barnes.

      May God help them to find comfort in their lost. We as a community will have to stand together and say enough is enough. We will have to get tired of seeing this, before it happens to one of us personally.

      God Bless

    • Denise McDonald


      • Colette

        @michellefrommadison, Please delete your comment. How would you feel if someone said something like that about your daughter, sister or friend. Phylicia most certainly was NOT a prostitute!! She was an honor student, graduating a year early from high school and already accepted to colleges. SHAME ON YOU!!!

      • michellefrommadison

        But, that’s not an uncommon outcome for prostitutes these days.

      • Kim

        @ michellefrommadison:

        How do you know. Is that what happened to your mother?

      • Margaret

        @Michelle from Madison- A comment like that would only come from someone that is still immature in the mind. What if that was your daughter, sister or friend. SHAME SHAME SHAME……………………………………………….

      • michellefrommadison

        Margaret, why you are so uninformed to the facts of this case is anyone’s guess. Perhaps drugs or alcohol is your problem, who knows?

        Being factual is not being immature in the adult real world. If that was someone I knew, I’d likely do some not so desirable things to the parents and everyone who had an influence on allowing Phylicia is act like a tramp like she did. Shame, shame, shame on you.

      • Sarita Miles

        this comment is for that heartless ass bastad michellfrommadison were is your compassion i hope that u and you family don’t ever have to through what the barnes family is going through. If you keeped up with Phylica’s Barnes story you would not have made that nasty ass comment dum ass she was a good child with a good. Her mother raised her well as matter a fact she was accepted in to college and one of choic
        es was where i work towson university. When i frist heard that Phylica was missing my heart dropprd i told my daughter that some body hurt that baby and yes my heart deeply for her and her family and friends of her’s mainly for her mother and i pray and ask god to keep his arms wrapped around her mother and father and the rest of Phylica’s family and loved ones and so should u if you have a heart. Are you a prostitute???????

      • Sarita Miles

        My heart goes out the barnes family. Ms Jance Sallis you have my deepest and sympaty and my sincere condolence goes out to you. I pray for you and i ask god keep his hands on you and keep you wrapped in his arms. I am so so sorry that this happend to you and your daughter

    • Tim Homes

      The senseless crime in Baltimore has to stop

    • marian bryant

      I pray that this family will get closure as to what happen to their daughter. She deserve more than to be thrown in a river like an animal.
      Marian Bryant

  • Doug

    Good luck.
    With so many bodies being dumped,here and there,
    one never knows.

  • monica

    In my heart I would have the hope that they found her alive and safe. However, if this is her, I’ll be lifting her family in prayer for understanding and closure in this time of life for them.

  • Tired of Stupid

    I wonder if u can ever leave ur pessimistic thoughts in ur head and not place them in our spirit! Come on Doug!! All those “bodies” are someone’s children. Have a heart sometimes

  • andrea chapman

    If that is phylica barnes .I will cry and feel the same way that her parents might be feeling. My family will pray that phylica will come back home safe and sound ,and that everything will be okay…. WE LOVE YOU PHYLICA !!!!!!!!

  • LON

    Nothing should be said until the bodies are I dentified. I didn’t know Phylica, but for to hear her name made me feel SAD. But for who ever it is in those waters prayers go out and up.. GOD HAS THE last SAY SO!!

  • Dessiee '

    My Condolences !!!

  • Mary LeLanee

    I doubt it is this girl that is missing. Being from the area- word was it was a middle aged white woman and male who had a Kayak accident near the PA/MD line. MD state police were called out this pass Monday for a boating accident.

    That Barnes girl is probably in Philly.

    • pos

      oh so your from that area yeah people from that area normally think there better than everybody and know everything which in reailty all it is is some hill billy old folk and yeah how do you know shes in philly do you know something ??

      • m

        YOUR /= YOU ARE…. YOU’RE

      • m

        THERE does not equal THEY ARE You need: THEY’RE

    • Nicole

      Sorry Mary but your doubts are wrong…Phylicia’s dad has confirmed that the body is that of his daughters…my heartfelt prayers goes out to the family…

      • Tonya

        Noboy has confirmed either bodies…they are so unrecgonizable that they don’t even know the race of them….no matter who it is my prayers go out to their families!!

      • SKD

        Tonya, the medical examiner uses dental records, and according to what CBS is now reporting, the police have CONFIRMED the identity of the body.

        If you know different who is your source?

      • Shawanda

        that’s true and condolences go out to their family sorry for your lost

  • kizzylove

    what makes u think she is in Philly

  • k21207

    Whoever it is in those waters, lets pray for them and their families. Speculation will get us nowhere fast. R.I.P

  • Deja

    My condolences are offered to the families and friends of Phylicia Barnes. Hopefully it will not be her.

  • Kittenspurr2

    God bless this family if this is her. The family has to grieve one more time but closer has come

  • Lakishia

    My thoughts and prayer goes out to the family. And I hope that the body found was not that of Phylicia Barnes

  • Lisa Morgan

    My prayers are with Phylicia’s family. Whether it’s her or not, my heart is breaking for her family.

  • Rose

    My heart goes out to the families of both victims. Either way you look at it, there are 2 families that will be greiving for their love ones. May GOD rest both of their souls.

  • Fyre

    Regardless of the identities of either of the bodies found, they were still someone’s family member. I see a lot of condolences being posted and prayers if it IS Phylicia, but have yet to see anyone offer condolences or prayers for the families of these two people if it is not.

    I hope whomever caused the tragedy to these two people, whoever they are, are brought to justice and that the families of these two individuals find peace.

  • makyla

    i feel bad for her family and i will pray for her family i feel so hurt that her fmily has to go through this so sad :(

  • Rose

    AMEN to that Frye!!!!!

  • Sandra Chapman

    Praying for the family. My heart goes out too you all. She was a beautiful Angel.

  • Taraya Gibson

    iI am so sad to find that it is indeed her body they found, but i am relieved that her family can finally get closure and peace if any. Maryland gets worse and worse by the day and its sad. To everyone on here today, pray for Phylicia and her family, but most important pray for your own kids who are growing up here as well!

  • Tasha Dailey

    My prayer goes out to the family.I pray your strength in the Lord, I pray for peace in the midnight hour. I pray that joy comes in the morniing. May God Bless You In the loss of your precious Angel…

  • kisha

    my heart felt heavy every since she been missing and i still feel the same just so sad, phylicia was a smart straight Astudent and had so much going on for her, my prayers go out 2 her family may god comfort them and give them the strength.

  • Taraya Gibson

    Your right Frye, i hope they identify the man’s body and is able to notify his family so that they may find peace as well. its sad to see your kids go before you. i cant imagine there pain. R.I.P PHYLICIA and YOUNG MAN

  • Melvin Colkley

    It is very unfortunate for whomever the bodies may be. It takes a cold and heartless individual to kill and dump a person in a raging river and go on about their business. While I hope and pray that Phylicia is found alive, if one of the bodies is in fact hers at least now her family may begin to find closure and heal. May God bless this dying and perverse nation and world.

  • kate

    How do you know she is in philly mary?

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