FBI Seeks Email, Facebook Access In Phylicia Barnes Case

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There’s startling new information in the Phylicia Barnes murder investigation. FBI agents pointed to a child pornography investigation as they tried to gain access to Barnes’ Facebook and email accounts.

Derek Valcourt has more on the developments.

Authorities won’t comment on the ongoing investigation, but federal court documents hint at this bizarre twist in the still unsolved murder case.

Phylicia Barnes, 16, disappeared in late December while visiting her sister in Northwest Baltimore.

The case sparked a massive search for the North Carolina native that ended in April when her naked body was found in the Susquehanna River.

Police investigators labeled it a murder but have refused to say how she was killed.

“They believe it’s important to the integrity of the investigation to withhold that information right now,” said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police.

Now U.S. District Court documents reveal detectives are using a child pornography investigation to gain access to email accounts and Facebook accounts linked to Barnes and others.

In these applications for search warrants obtained by WJZ’s media partner, the Baltimore Sun, authorities ask to search four Facebook accounts, six separate Yahoo! email accounts– including two with Phylicia’s name– and one America Online email account for evidence of crimes, including sexual exploitation of children and distribution and possession of child pornography.

Affidavits related to the case remain sealed but Phylicia Barnes’ father Russell Barnes and her brother Bryan Barnes both told WJZ they had been aware of the search warrants for months and said the warrants were all part of a thorough investigation by police to find who killed Phylicia.

As her family waits for justice, they are “trying to figure out what happened and why it happened and who did it and getting that person behind bars so it won’t happen to anybody else,” said Bryan Barnes.

The applications for search warrants were filed back on May 10.

No word yet from investigators if those email and Facebook accounts provided any useful information.

You can read more about this case in Friday morning’s edition of the Baltimore Sun.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • Tracey Reitterer

    Glad to see the police and FBI haven’t given up on this case. Phylicia’s loved ones deserve JUSTICE.

  • M. Ross

    Glad to see that the BCPD is JUST getting around to actually INVESTIGATING in JULY when this child disappeared in DECEMBER. Why would you not check her Facebook, MySpace, and Email FIRST??? She’s a teenager! That should have been the FIRST place they looked, and now they’re informing us that they’re finally doing SOMETHING that makes sense in the search for her?….7 months LATER??? The BCPD is a JOKE and an embarassment. It’s a shame she was deceased when they finally took an investigative measure that made some sense. God rest her soul…and God help us ALL if we have to depend on the BCPD to get anything done.

    • Angel

      M. Ross So True about BCPD they suck. There is really no great leaders here in Baltimore or Maryland Period…

    • Real Police work is not CSI

      I love when people think real life police work is a television show like CSI or criminal minds. Police don’t have the ability to hack into a person’s email accounts without probable cause. Clearly BCP has new information that has them chasing a new lead. Andrew Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who is not involved in the case. But, he said, “a tip is not enough for a judge to issue a search warrant — there has to be reliability to it and probable cause that a crime occurred.”

  • kory

    I agree!

  • Angel

    RIP Phylicia We Pray That Justice Will Be Served Soon. GOD do not make mistakes and He will bring them to forth…

  • rideon

    She was from the ride and die type of family.

  • http://cbsnews.asktavoris.com/facebook-email-acess-sought-by-feds-in-phylicia-barnes-md-murder-case/ CBS News » Facebook, email acess sought by feds in Phylicia Barnes Md. murder case

    […] Barnes, 16, disappeared in late December while visiting her sister in northwest Baltimore, reports CBS affiliate WJZ. […]

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