FBI Seeks Email, Facebook Access In Barnes Case

Updated:

BALTIMORE —

Federal investigators are asking for warrants to access Facebook pages and various email accounts linked to Monroe teen Phylicia Barnes as a part of a child pornography and sexual exploitation investigation.

The agency also wants access to four accounts that appear to be associated with men in Baltimore.

Barnes, 16, disappeared while visiting family in Baltimore in December 2010. Her body was found in a river about an hour north of the city in April.

Police are investigating her death as a homicide but have not released a cause.

Eyewitness News put in calls to the FBI's office in Baltimore and to the Maryland State Police on Friday, but were told they couldn't comment.

Chris Swecker, a former assistant director for the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, offered some insight on the investigation.

"There are facts that amount to probable cause, which is a pretty high standard that there is some connection to a child exploitation case,” Swecker said.

Swecker said agents will likely be looking at Barnes' web surfing history to see what sites she visited. Also, he said, they will possibly look at the texts of any emails to see if someone was trying to exploit her and whether anyone tried to entice her to travel.

Swecker said this latest move shows investigators are committed to turning over every stone.

“These are tough cases to work," Swecker said. "You have to be fairly heartened investigators to stay with these type of investigations, and I hope they get to the bottom of this one."

Shortly after Phylicia's disappearance, her mother, Janis Sallis, said she feared her daughter may have been a victim of human trafficking or sex crimes. Channel 9 reached out to the family Friday about the latest development in the case and is waiting to hear back.