MONROE, N.C. - Police turned up no sign of a missing Monroe teenager during a Tuesday search of a secluded Baltimore park.
Phylicia Barnes, 16, was last seen on Dec. 28 in Baltimore, where she was visiting her half-sister. She may have been abducted, investigators said.
"I'm told she’s a straight-A student, graduated high school early, planned to attend Towson University, has no history of running away, has no history of emotional distress, no criminal history," Anthony Gugliemi, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said.
More than 100 police officers searched Leakin Park for hours on Tuesday, but found no signs of a body or clues to Barnes’ whereabouts. They searched a stream and woods in Leakin Park, helped by a police helicopter, members of the dive team, dogs trained to sniff out bodies and officers from the Maryland Natural Resources police.
Investigators also searched the half-sister’s apartment for a second time, but still found no sign of the teen.
There has been no activity on Barnes’ Facebook account, bank account or cell phone account since she was reported missing, Baltimore police said. Guglielmi said the boyfriend of one of Barnes’ half-sisters was the last person to see her before she went missing. Neither he nor anyone else has been named a suspect or person of interest in her disappearance.
Barnes’ mother, Janice Sallis, said her daughter had connected with her half-sister through Facebook. Eventually, she decided to allow her to take a trip to Baltimore to visit over the Christmas holiday.
“Before she was allowed to go there, I questioned her sister, Deena Barnes, who is 28 years old. ‘How was her environment?’ She said, ‘It’s just going to be me and Phylicia because my boyfriend and I, we broke up and he would be officially moved out by Jan. 1,’” Sallis said.
However, Sallis said she later learned that people were in and out of the apartment and Barnes’ half-sister may have allowed the teenager to drink alcohol.
“I was infuriated,” Sallis said. “I said, ‘You know that’s not the environment she comes from.’”
Sallis said she last spoke with her daughter on Christmas Day.
Barnes’ disappearance has stunned her classmates at Union Academy in Monroe, where she is a senior. They gathered on Monday morning to hold a vigil.
“I'm really sad because she's like a part of the family,” student Derral Tims said.
“(I’m) just so scared,” student Lindsey Helms said. “(I’m) just praying she's going to turn up, and she'll be safe and sound.”
Students said they’re hoping to raise money for the Barnes family to help with travel expenses or a reward for information in the teen’s disappearance. As of Tuesday, more than 2,300 people joined a Facebook page called "Pray for Phylicia Barnes."
Barnes was last seen wearing a navy blue hooded pea coat, a turquoise thermal shirt, blue jeans and white slippers/boots.
Investigators in Baltimore are offering a $2,500 reward for information in her disappearance and have created a 24-hour toll-free tip line for the case. The number is 1-855-223-0033.
Billboards about Barnes’ disappearance are going up on Interstate 95 between Baltimore and New York. Police are also reaching out to national media outlets to publicize the case.