Mar 30, 2011

 
 
 
 
Monday marked three months since high school honor student Phylicia Simone Barnes disappeared without a trace from a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood just days after Christmas. And despite an investigation of "unprecedented scope," Baltimore Police concede they still have few solid clues that may point to what happened to the 17-year-old.

Police held a press conference Monday and announced that the huge volume of tips that initially poured into the agency has dwindled significantly.

"Unfortunately, the tips that we were getting in a record number have diminished," said lead investigator Sgt. William P. Simmons. "Over the past several weeks, we've only had five tips come in. Circumstantially, we feel like we are progressing forward and going in the right direction. We still lack substantial physical evidence to find out what happened to Phylicia Barnes."

Barnes vanished after leaving the apartment of her 28-year-old half-sister, Deena Barnes, at 6520 Eberle Drive in the Reisterstown Square Apartments around 1 p.m. on Dec. 28. She allegedly went out to get something to eat.
However, the senior at Union Academy in Monroe, North Carolina is totally unfamiliar with the area, which contributed to the police theory she may have been abducted and taken out of Maryland.

Investigators say she took her cell phone with her, but it has not been used since her disappearance, and there has been no activity on her Facebook page.

"We continue to hold out hope that we can find out what happened to Phylicia and bring her home safely to her family," Simmons said.

But, when Simmons was asked if there was any evidence that led him to believe Barnes was still alive he said, "I can't say substantially that there's anything to say she's still alive, but we still hold out hope."

It was revealed early on in the investigation that at least 20 males had visited Deena Barnes' apartment over the holidays while Barnes was visiting. That caused her mother, Janice Salis – who allowed her daughter to travel to Baltimore for Christmas to get better acquainted with the other side of her family – great consternation. But at this week's press conference, authorities reiterated they have interviewed everybody who may have had contact with Barnes in December.

"We were provided a list of approximately 25 people that had access to the apartment," Simmons said. "We've either spoken to or ruled everyone out on that list ... There's no one person that stands out much more than any of the others."

However, over the weekend, during a segment about Barnes' disappearance on the weekend version of "Today," noted criminal profiler Clint Van Zandt suggested Deena Barnes' ex-boyfriend – allegedly the last person to see Barnes alive – could become a person of interest in the investigation.

"He's got an attorney ... but, in this case, a missing person case, what does he have to hide, to hold back?" Van Zandt asked.

"It's likely he is the key ... At one o'clock, the ex-boyfriend says, 'She (Phylicia) was asleep on the couch, she's going out later.' He's the last person to see her. He's the key to this story," explained Van Zandt. "But, of course, we know there was at least a dozen men in an out of this apartment that were friends of the half-sister over the time she was there. So, a lot of people would have had contact with her, would've known she was there and perhaps by herself."

Phylicia Barnes is 5'8" tall and weighs 120 pounds. The reward for information that leads to her whereabouts is up to $42,000, and anybody with information about her disappearance is urged to call (855) 223-0033.
 
 

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