North Carolina Student Phylicia Barnes Was Murdered, Say Police

PHOTO: The body of Phylicia Barnes, who was missing since December, is believed to have been found on April 21, 2011.
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Phylicia Barnes, the star student from North Carolina who went missing in Maryland last December, was a victim of murder, according to the first autopsy results released by Maryland State Police.

An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Maryland determined her death to be a homicide. Police say they know the cause of death, but are not releasing the information for now because it is an ongoing investigation.

"To release a cause of death at this time could jeopardize the investigation by revealing information known only to the person or persons responsible for her death," Maryland State Police said in a statement. "The cause of death will be made public at an appropriate time in the future."

Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police, told ABC News there are no suspects in the case, and the investigation is continuing.

"If they get some suspects, they want to be able to talk to them about this, and say it hasn't been covered by the media so only they would know the details," Shipley said.

The sixteen-year-old honor student's body was released to her family today. They have scheduled private funeral services for Saturday in Conyers, Georgia.

"Phylicia's family wishes to thank her school family, law enforcement and the thousands of people that have expressed sympathies following her untimely demise," Barnes' immediate family said in a statement. "They would also ask that we continue to pray and search for the scores of other citizens who continue to be classified as 'missing.'"

Barnes went missing in the Baltimore area while visiting her sister from Monroe, North Carolina in late December. Her naked body was discovered in the Susquehanna River, nearly 35 miles from Baltimore, in late April.

The body of Darryl Harper, 53 of Richmond, Va., was discovered in the same river several hours after the discovery of Barnes' body. Police believe there is no connection between the two.

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