BALTIMORE (AP) — After months of searches, authorities confirmed Thursday that a body found in a Maryland river was a North Carolina teen who went missing while visiting relatives over the Christmas holidays.
Phylicia Barnes, from the small North Carolina city of Monroe, about 25 miles southeast of Charlotte, disappeared Dec. 28 while visiting her older half-siblings in Baltimore. Her 17th birthday was Jan. 12.
Barnes’ body was one of two pulled from the Susquehanna River on Wednesday. The other body was a man, and it is not clear if there is any connection between the two.
A cause of death was not available, Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said.
Barnes’ family and friends had raised more than $35,000 in reward money to help solve the case. Her mother and stepfather declined to comment on the identification of the body.
Soon after the teen vanished, Baltimore police alerted local media saying her disappearance was unusual because she had no history of disputes with her family or trouble with the law. Police called it one of the strangest and most vexing missing persons cases they had investigated, and, despite getting help from the FBI, they had few leads.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi began describing it as “Baltimore’s Natalee Holloway case.” The Barnes case did not get as much attention as the disappearance of the Alabama teen in Aruba, but Barnes’ mother said in January that she did not feel slighted.
“My daughter is not the only child that’s missing. Other children need their time, too,” Janice Sallis said. “I appreciate all that has been done for her and us thus far, and it’s quality, not quantity, that’s important to me.”
Police worked to keep the search for Barnes in public, posting a smiling photo of Barnes from her Facebook page on electronic billboards along highways in the Baltimore region. The effort spurred scores of tips, but none panned out.
More than 100 police officers combed a northwest Baltimore park in the weeks after she vanished, but found no clues to her whereabouts. Earlier this month, hundreds of law enforcement officers and volunteers searched a state park south of Baltimore and leafleted the area of the city where she was last seen. That daylong effort again failed to turn up any clues and police said they were “back at square one.”
A news conference was planned for 8 p.m. Thursday.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.