Updated: 11:26 p.m. Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Posted: 10:32 p.m. Thursday, April 28, 2011
Hundreds Gather To Remember Life Of Phylicia Barnes
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Phylicia Barnes. The body of the 17-year-old Monroe teen was found in a Maryland river last week. She had been reported missing four months ago today.
The service was at the Lee Park Baptist Church in Monroe. Barnes’ mother, stepfather and other family members led a processional into the sanctuary before being seated on the front row. Over the next two hours - strangers, classmates and family members took the podium to share fond memories and comforting words.
Barnes’ former theater teacher Todd Ford said, “I think it’s all about healing and clinging to each other and celebrating a wonderful person who touched all of our lives.”
At the end of service, everyone gathered outside and released 100 purple balloons, which was Phylicia’s favorite color. Her mother Janis Sallis-Mustafa gently kissed her balloon before releasing it into the sky. She spoke with Eyewitness News at the end of the emotional ceremony. “I can’t express how special she is,” Sallis said. “I’m not going to use the word was, because to me she is still special and to me she will always be special.”
As for the investigation, Eyewitness News talked with Greg Shipley, spokesperson for the Maryland State Police by phone. Shipley said investigators are working daily to figure out what led to Phylicia’s disappearance and death.
Shipley said they still have not established a connection between Barnes and 53-year-old Darryl Harper, whose body was also found in the same river a few miles from where Barnes’ body was recovered.
Shipley said they are still waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause and manner of death. He did tell Eyewitness News investigators are re-interviewing people, reviewing evidence and working to uncover any new leads.