Baltimore Police say they are “enormously concerned” about a 16-year-old girl from North Carolina visiting family in Baltimore, who has not been seen or heard from since Dec. 28. And they have requested the FBI aid in the search for the missing teen.

“We have serious concerns about this case,” said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld, III during a press conference earlier this month. Baltimore homicide is investigating Barnes’ disappearance.
According to police, Phylicia Barnes, an honor student from Monroe, N.C., was visiting her older sister at the Reisterstown Square Apartments on the 6500 block of Eberle Drive in Northwest Baltimore.

On Jan. 4, investigators greatly expanded their search for Barnes based on a post on The Baltimore Sun website. “Humor me, somebody pop over to the 4000 block of Franklintown Road and look at the Southwest shoulder,” read the post in the comment section at the bottom of a story about Barnes’ disappearance.

Police confirmed the comment sparked the mobilization of at least 100 police officers who scoured a section of Leakin Park in Southwest Baltimore for eight hours. The search included use of a dive team and police helicopter.

It was later revealed the comment was not a tip based on tangible information about Barnes’ vanishing, but more on the heinous, decades-long history of the park being a dumping ground for dead bodies. The search yielded no new leads in the case, according to police.

“Detectives have been working around the clock, literally around the clock on this case,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Baltimore Police spokesman during a Jan. 4 press conference. “We have 20 detectives in shifts. This is extremely high priority for us. Every hour that passes we get more and more concerned.”

Barnes allegedly left her sister’s apartment, which is nestled between the Reisterstown Road Metro stop and Reisterstown Road Plaza, around 1:30 p.m. Dec. 28 to get something to eat. Reportedly wearing a navy pea coat with a hood, blue jeans, a turquoise shirt and white slipper boots, Barnes was also carrying her cell phone and wallet, but repeated calls to that cell phone have gone unanswered. She was scheduled to fly back to North Carolina Jan. 3, but she didn’t make that flight. Police say they fear she has been abducted and possibly taken out of Maryland.

Barnes, who has no history of criminal activity or of running away, is not familiar with Baltimore and allegedly has no friends in the area. “I know she’s traumatized right now,” said Barnes’ mother Janice Stallings during an interview with WBAL-TV, Baltimore’s NBC affiliate. “She’s scared out of her mind right now. She’s a little innocent girl who does not do any harm to anyone.”

The neighborhood from which Barnes vanished is awash with fliers bearing her photo. At her hometown the teen’s family members and friends held a vigil for her on New Year’s Day. At the charter school she attends classmates of the standout student have also held vigils praying for her safe return.

“I have a strong faith that we will find her, and we will find her well,” said Reginald Barnes, the missing girl’s father, who said he grew up in Baltimore. According to him his younger daughter, who was on pace to graduate from high school early, planned to live in Baltimore with her 27-year-old sister while she attended Towson University.
As of Jan. 4, 2,088 people have joined a Facebook page called, “Pray for Phylicia Barnes.”

Yesha Callahan, a blogger and social commentator who joined the page, wrote about the lack of national media for the Barnes case. “Phylicia Barnes has been missing from the Baltimore area since Dec. 28th, but her case has not received the national attention that other cases have received,” wrote Callahan on Jan. 3. “Is it because she’s black?”

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Phylicia Barnes is asked to call the Baltimore City Police Department.


Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor