Mystery Deepens Surrounding The Death Of Phylicia Barnes

PORT DEPOSIT, Md. (WJZ) –It could be weeks before we know exactly how Phylicia Barnes died. But now police say finding her body is going to drastically help their investigation.

Mike Hellgren is following the case and has new reaction from her father.

A team of detectives is working right now to piece together what happened in Barnes’ final moments alive and answer questions, including how she ended up in the Susquehanna River, was she murdered and who was the 240-pound man found floating dead in the water nearly four miles away.

“As of today we don’t have an identity on this man. Our investigators have been running fingerprints, contacting other police departments. So that is a continuing priority in this investigation is to find out who he is, why he would have ended up in the same river,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.

Barnes’ father said his daughter had never been to the area where she was found, an hour north of the Baltimore neighborhood where she disappeared while visiting her half-sister for Christmas.

“We’re still not finished. We want to find out what happened to Phylicia, how she came to this dam, who would bring her to this area that she knows nothing about,” said her father Russell Barnes.

The discovery has saddened so many who searched and prayed for her safe return.

“I was sad,” said Deborah Myers, Northwest Baltimore neighbor. “I cried for the mother. It’s really sad to hear that. I was hoping she was still alive.”

Police say they found no signs of trauma on the body, that the honor student was naked, and that it is unclear how long she had been in the cold, fast moving river.

“We’re going to continue to work as hard now as we’ve worked all those days since Dec. 28, and our goal simply is to bring closure to Phylicia Barnes’ family,” said Commissioner Fred Bealefeld.

It’s important to note that at this point police are not calling this a murder. They say they’ve already canvassed the area along the banks of the Susquehanna River, but they may have to go back as the investigation leads them.

Stay with WJZ for continued coverage of this investigation.

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