MONROE, N.C. - Groups in two different states are preparing to remember Phylicia Barnes.
Wednesday marks one year since the teen disappeared while visiting family in Baltimore. She was last seen Dec. 28, 2010.
Her body was pulled from a Maryland river four months later.
The Huffington Post, a national news website, recently ranked the disappearance and unsolved murder of Barnes as one of the top 11 crime stories of 2011.
Barnes' tragic death was profiled on the website with other high profile cases, including the attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the murder trials of Florida mother Casey Anthony and Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray.
"Crimes like this happen all the time but what makes this more significant is that she was such a promising student and she had a bright future," said Charles Patterson.
He was Barnes' childhood acting coach and a close family friend.
Phylicia Barnes"She touched many lives, especially the people at school that she interacted with," said Patterson.
Barnes' former school, Union Academy, is closed for the holidays but Wednesday afternoon, students and some of Barnes’ family will gather at the campus to plant a tree in her memory.
Wednesday night there will also be a special program to remember Barnes at a church in Baltimore.
This anniversary marks one of many difficult days ahead for Barnes' loved ones, including her birthday next month. Though the milestones are painful and justice seems just out of reach, Patterson said keeping Barnes’ memory alive brings him comfort.
"We should remember her as she was, a beautiful shining star," he said.
Maryland State Police investigators said they are making progress in the case but a spokesperson told Eyewitness News they are not able to reveal specifically what kind of progress they have made so far.