ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The family of murdered teenager Phylicia Barnes is working to ensure she didn’t die in vain. They’re pushing for a new Maryland law to improve searches.

Mike Hellgren has more on how it could end heartache for hundreds of families.

The latest journey for Phylicia Barnes’ loved ones in their quest for justice is to Annapolis.

“We will always never forget Phylicia,” said her father, Russell Barnes.

Her dad is pushing for what’s being called Phylicia’s Law. It would create mandatory guidelines in searches for missing children, focusing on the first few moments after they disappear.

Barnes’ case did not immediately get attention after family members reported her missing while visiting relatives in Baltimore in December 2010. Authorities conducted exhaustive searches and months later found her murdered and floating in the Susquehanna River.

“We’re still living a nightmare,” Russell Barnes said. “We want to make sure other families do not go through what we’ve been through.”

“When she was first reported missing, I believe if someone would have come and the search would have started, then all of this could have been avoided,” said her cousin, Alisia Chamberlain.

Under Phylicia’s Law, there would be no mandatory period before beginning an investigation, no police rules discouraging filing an immediate report and state police would get involved if the child is not located within 24 hours.

“We’ve been working through what we have to do,” said Delegate Jill Carter.

“We plan to permanently change the way the state searches for and protects children,” said missing persons’ advocate Don L. Rondeau.

“This law will apply to far more children than the Amber Alert,” said Children’s Rights Council President Emeritus David Levy.

As for Barnes, while her body has been found, her family says there are no new leads on tracking down her killer. They hope her legacy will be helping others avoid the same fate.

“We will continue to fight until justice is served for her,” Chamberlain said.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Phylicia’s Law throughout the afternoon Wednesday. Advocates hope it passes during this legislative session.

Comments (15)
  1. Richard P. says:

    I am confused.
    When this story first broke I thought it was the sister and the people that the young girl was visiting with did no cooperate with authorites. Maybe I am wrong.

  2. adraine says:

    what is your problem pig

    1. dave says:

      Adraine the Niglet Nuckin Figger.

  3. Cathy says:

    When a parent reports a child missing there should never been a 24 hour waiting period. Most parents know there children better then antone else. They should start an investigation RIGHT AWAY!!! I think the it’s ridiculous to wait 24 hours to search for anyone that is reported missing. If I feel the need to report my child missing it for good reason.

  4. Mary says:

    I am all for the Phylicia Law. When she was first reported missing, the police did not act on it right away thinking she went off with someone. It seems like a week went by before police got involved. I am starting to wonder about the competency of the Baltimore City Police…that no arrest(s) has been made.

  5. Nope says:

    Can we call it something else, I can’t pronounce “Phylicia.” Oh right, its so “we will always never forget Phylicia.” Always never forget, folks.

  6. Beth St Clair says:

    Wow…a story about taking steps to protect ALL children in the event they go missing and you two a** holes (O’niel and Blackhater) want to rant with your racist comments. Luckily, I can read between the lines well enough to know that you are both insecure, worthless pieces of dog doo that have nothing better to do than tear down others to help you feel better. So sad. I almost feel sorry for you bigots.

  7. Beth St Clair says:

    Diregard my previous comment. Thankfully those ignorant comments were removed. Unfortunately, I am sure more will appear…if they do feel free to refer back to the previous comment. Good day all!

  8. Poor Janice Sallis! says:

    See the problem with police taking cases seriously is if the step sister has the child doing drugs and alcohol with thugs seems the police had every right to think Phylicia might have ran away with one of the thugs!!! Janice seems to be the one in the dark as to what was going on in that apartment. Oh when is Deena and her thug clan going to be arrested or have they pulled off the perfect crime??? Well if Deena/ thugs were 13yrs old they would be caught as we see in the other case (girl shot in chest and police help hide weapon)…….

  9. Peacemaker says:

    This law is not anti police. It is anti murderer. The bottom line is that a murderer still walks the streets. There is no evidence that I am aware of that indicates that the police or the family had anything to do with the murder of Phylicia Barnes. This law is designed to ensure that we( everyone ) all do what we can to better protect children. Accusations, racists rants and other comments distract. A murderer…a killer remains free. This is where our focus must be. Just posting without having been out there searching for her, trying to get justice for her means nothing…Just pointing fingers without trying to do something about it is sad. Making fun of a dead girl is pathetic. People are working to protect children and get a murderer off the streets. Join us or get out of the way.

    1. Pat says:

      Thank you for saying that Peacemaker. We are trying to get a Bill in place, so that NO ONE will have to endure; what our family has and still is going through, No family should call the police, to only hear call us back after 24hrs has pass. We are asking that everyone, get in touch with your State Delegates; email them and ask them to vote for- Phylicia’s Law HB1120. Could you please take the time to do that, and pass it forward; so that others will do the same! Let’s protect our loved ones/family/friends/co-workers/church members/ etc. Thanking you in advance!

  10. PULEEZE! says:

    No you’re being “very” naive” if you think what the step sister had going on in that apartment didn’t contrbute to Phylicia’s death!!! Why do you think it has taken so long to solve this case when the family seems to think it’s open and shut? Well it’s because the family is part of the cover-up! I bet Mike and thugs are laughing everyday Deena walks free because it means they walk free…..stop using this case to “pretend” to protect other children when it’s about protecting the Barnes family!!! Other murdered/missing klids in MD deserve to have thier names on this law (little boy murdered by father and thrown like trash in a field…WANT ME TO KEEP GOING???) Well if this law clears Deena’s conscience then I guess it’s “great!”

  11. PULEEZE! says:

    I was watching Find Our Missing and it’s interesting how many black cases aren’t taken seriously because drugs etc. are usually involved!! That makes the job much harder for the police. Think if they took those photos of Deena, Phylicia, MJ etc running naked instead of listening to a grieving mother trying to convince law enforcement her daughter isn’t this trashy??? I’ve taken my blinders off and have come to the conclusion police would have solved this case by now if they weren’t trying to figure out a way to keep Deena out of jail with the rest of the thugs!! I will pray for the Mustafa family!!!!

  12. Flyguy says:

    Whoever killed her needs to go to jail. If you actually read the law it does not blame the police. The bill focuses on volunteers working with the police TOGETHER and others to search in a way that makes sense for all missing children. In the state of Maryland over 1000 kids are currently missing. We want to help them all. If you think you know who killed Phyicia Barnes call the police and tell them. If you are right you would be a hero. The police testified in favor of the law. Your messages are unproductive . The people in bmore are trying to save the lives of children and they are the reason people have not forgot about Phylica Barnes. Her name is in the news now because of the efforts of alot of people . They dont care who killed her they just want justice.

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