Search Continues for Phylicia Barnes, Missing for 10 Days After Trip to Baltimore

Star student Phylicia Barnes, 16, went missing three days after Christmas.

ByABC News
January 8, 2011, 11:08 AM

Jan. 8, 2011— -- The search continues for Phylicia Simone Barnes, a star high school student from North Carolina who went missing in Baltimore last week. The 16-year-old honor student from Monroe, N.C., was visiting her half-sister when she disappeared three days after Christmas.

Phylicia was last heard from Dec.28 via Facebook when she posted a note saying she was at her sister's apartment with her sister's boyfriend. The 5 foot 8 inch straight-A, African-American student has been missing ever since.

"I was going to turn this city upside down to find my child, and I was going to leave no stone unturned," Russell Barnes, Phylicia's father, told ABC News.

The FBI and Baltimore police are conducting the investigation. Baltimore Metro Crime Stoppers has offered a cash reward of up to $2,000 for her discovery.

Police told ABC News today that they obtained additional security video from the area surrounding the apartment, but it has yet to shed new light on the case. FBI helicopters have scoured the area for three days without finding any clues.

"If there's any good news, we haven't found anything yet," Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

"We've thrown every single tool, trick, machine, widget that we have in our law enforcement toolbox. And ten days later we still have nothing."

Police say several people who visited the apartment are considered persons of interest, and the two likely scenarios proposed by investigators are abduction or murder.

"At this point, you hope it's an abduction," Guglielmi said.

Janice Sallis, Phylicia's mother, said, "If she's alive, she's scared to death."

"Our goal is to find our sweet beautiful sister, daughter, niece, friend - that's what she is to everyone," said Phylicia's father, Russell Barnes.

Aside from Baltimore and her hometown near Charlotte, N.C., Phylicia's disappearance has garnered little media attention, raising the issue of a double-standard because of her race.

"I can't see how this case is any different from Natalee Holloway," Guglielmi said. "Is it because she's African-American? Why?"

Question of Double-Standard Arises

The dissappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway while on vacation in Aruba nearly six years ago sparked a media frenzy. But news coverage has been relatively sparse in Phylicia's case.

Speaking about the lack of national media coverage, the Baltimore Police spokesman said, "Birds are falling out of the sky in Arkansas and two headed calves, and this girl may lose her life."

The Baltimore Mayor's office says it shares the concern about the possible existence of a double-standard in the coverage of Phylicia's disappearance but is more distressed about the case because of its heartbreaking nature.

"You see other cases that get attention, other kids that go missing and its immediately up on television and you know, I know there's frustration," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Nearly 9,000 people have joined a Facebook page called, "Pray for Phylicia Barnes." The charter school Phylicia attends in North Carolina, Union Academy, held a vigil for the promising student.

"Just so scared, just praying that she's going to turn up and she'll be safe and sound," Lindsey Helms, a student at Union Academy, said.

Her father said, "Phylicia had a bright spirit and just a glow about herself. Our greatest hope is that she can walk in the door and ... be reunited with her family."