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Investigation Into Death of Teen Moves to 'New Place'

Police identified the body of the missing girl but are still investigating the incident.

UPDATE (10:37 p.m.)—The body of Phylicia Barnes, the North Carolina teen who had been missing since December, has been found, but the circumstances of her death continue to elude detectives.

City and Maryland State police confirmed that one of two bodies pulled from the Susquehanna River on Wednesday about four miles south of the Conowingo Dam and 10 miles north of Havre de Grace was that of Barnes. The second body, that of a black man, remains unidentified Friday.

"We're now at stage one of a new place in the investigation," Baltimore City Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Thursday night during a news conference at Maryland State police headquarters in Pikesville.

The bodies were pulled from the water within four miles of each other. Neither body was wearing clothes when found. Barnes was positively identified by her dental records.

Investigators will now focus their efforts on answering lingering questions about the last days of Barnes' life after she disappeared.

“We’re going to continue to work as hard now as we worked all those days since Dec. 28," Bealefeld said. "Our goal is to simply bring closure to Phylicia Barnes' family and figure out what happened and hold those responsible accountable.”

So far, Barnes' cause of death is unknown. Medical examiners said there were no indications of overt wounds on Barnes' body.

Police will also try to identify the man pulled from the water on the same day. Neither Bealefeld nor Maryland State Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan would say definitively that the deaths were connected beyond the bodies being found within hours of each other.

Also unknown is how long Barnes and the unidentified male had been in the water.

Sheridan said, according to medical examiners, "it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility” both could have been in the water since December with the cold temperatures slowing decomposition.

Under such conditions, the bodies would "stay intact for a long time," Sheridan said.

Neither Bealefeld nor Sheridan would speculate on persons of interest or whether foul play was suspected.

Investigators were returning to the area where the bodies were found to search for evidence, Bealefeld said. The scope of the investigation, however, is being conducted at a national level as well.

Both bodies have been scanned for fingerprints, which are being processed through the state's Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Center.

“Homicide investigators have notified police throughout the region about the recovered bodies," Sheridan said."We’re now working with the Baltimore Police Department homicide detectives and the ongoing investigation they had with Phylicia Barnes."

Barnes was from Monroe, NC, and was visiting her half-sister when she went missing from Northwest Baltimore three days after Christmas.

The discovery of Barnes' body brings to an end a nearly four-month search that involved local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and covered areas outside the city, including a search of Patapsco Valley State Park.

"We didn't limit the scope of our efforts to Baltimore City," Bealefeld said.

He said he spoke to Barnes' parents prior to Thursday's news conference.

"All of us prayed for a different outcome of this case," Bealefeld said.

"It's horrible," he said. "It’s the worst possible news you could give to any mother and it’s the last bit of news that they’d ever want to hear. It’s a very difficult situation for everyone and horrible for that family.”

octavia ghee April 22, 2011 at 10:31 AM
I am so very to sad to hear of such news,maythe scripture at revelation chap 21, verses 3&4 bring you family comfort at this time.-octavia ghee, parkville md
jj April 23, 2011 at 04:16 PM
now the family has answers though not what they wanted they will have closure
amdactivist April 23, 2011 at 05:12 PM
there will never be a closure for this family and friends. A giant ache is in their heart forever.
Jackie McTear April 23, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Such a sad and mysterious tragedy. I hope they will be able to determine what happened.
Margaret April 24, 2011 at 11:35 AM
I will keep the family and friends in my prayers. I pray that the police determine why and what happened.
Sue April 24, 2011 at 04:35 PM
SUCH A HORRIBLE TRAGEDY, I WAS PRAYING FOR A DIFFERENT OUTCOME, I SO WISH THEY HAD FOUND HER ALIVE. SO MANY MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY I'M SURE PRAYED FOR THIS GIRL AND HER FAMILY. GOD BLESS THE BARNES FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THIS BEAUTIFUL YOUNG GIRL.. MY SINCEREST CONDOLENCES TO YOU ALL.
linda hall April 24, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Lmh Hope they soon find those responsible, May God bless
Pikesville Prayer Team April 25, 2011 at 04:13 AM
We have been praying for this precious young lady and the Barnes Family. We prayed hoping the outcome would have been different but thank God she was found to help bring some closure and healing for the family. Our pray now....the TRUTH come forth and those responsible exposed. Let us all continue to pray for those missing (children and youth). One loss hurts the entire community. Pikesville Prayer Team
Deneen Morgan-Burley May 11, 2011 at 06:10 AM
I look forward to the day when people will stop using Baltimore as a dumping ground. It sickens me that this young lady came here for a visit to our wonderful City and never got the opportunity to return home to her family. I hope we as a community do all we can to support the police in their efforts to find the perpetrator(s) of this and any other hideous crime committed in our beautiful backyard. It 's time to treat murders as the felonies they are and throw the book at the criminals that carry them out. I wish as much peace as possible to her family and loved ones.

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