Updated: 7:01 a.m. Monday, April 25, 2011 | Posted: 9:55 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2011
Friend Recalls Conversation With Monroe Teen's Mother Day Before Body Found
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
One day after police announced the body of 17-year-old Phylicia Barnes was recovered from a Maryland river, her former acting coach and family friend reached out to Eyewitness News to remember the teen.
Charles Patterson said he first met Barnes in 2006, when he became her acting coach. He opened up about the moment Thursday, when his worst fears about Barnes were confirmed. "I held my head in my hands and I just cried."
Patterson said he helped Barnes prepare for her role in a children's stage play called "The Star that Hangs Closest to the Earth." It was held in the Pease Auditorium at CPCC in Charlotte. It was through that experience that Patterson also got to know Barnes' mother, Janis Sallis, who narrated the play.
Patterson has remained a family friend and said he spoke to Barnes' mother by phone the day before her body was found.
"She said that she had contacted the Baltimore Police Department and one of the supervisors told her that we have some information that we cannot share with you about your daughter's disappearance." Patterson said. "Even on the phone I could tell she was going through agony."
The discovery of Barnes' body and that of an unidentified man in the same part of the river only adds to the painful mystery. Patterson said, "We lost a shining star." He said, "She should be remembered as an exceptional extraordinary young woman."
Patterson said he would like to see local businesses come together to create a reward fund for information.
Investigators are still working to identify the black man pulled from the same river hours after Barnes was found. Maryland State Police said they can't give a time frame for when a cause of death will be released.
On Monday there will be additional counselors at Union Academy where Barnes was a student. The school's headmaster is also expected to speak publicly for the first time since Barnes' death was announced.