Boyfriend Charged in Pregnant Woman's Slaying

Authorities hope Eric Phan leads them to the body of 20-year-old Lauren Barnes.

ByDAVID SCHOETZ

Nov. 29, 2007 — -- Police in Oklahoma hope that a man arrested in the murder of a pregnant woman who may have been carrying his child will help lead authorities to her body.

Eric Phan, a 20-year-old college student from Oklahoma City, was arrested without incident on a first-degree murder charge at his attorney's office Wednesday evening.

Phan will be arraigned on a charge that he killed his five-month pregnant girlfriend Lauren Barnes, also 20. Family members say Barnes was last seen Friday before she was to meet Phan at a park in Bethany. Barnes' mother reported her daughter missing Saturday and on Sunday authorities discovered her car locked and abandoned at the park. There was no sign of a struggle.

"What we're doing now, we're in a holding pattern," Bethany Police Chief Neal Troutman told ABC News. "He has been communicating with his legal counsel and we're hoping they will be able to talk to us today and hopefully lead us to Lauren."

Phan previously had been identified as one of two persons of interest in Barnes' disappearance. Focus turned to Phan after investigators ruled out the second person after interviewing him.

"We went out and spoke to the No. 2 suspect," Troutman said. "We did several interviews with him and verified the fact that he was not the guy."

Attention shifted soley to Phan, whom police had spoken to on a daily basis, according to Troutman. Phan told police that he went to the park in Bethany Friday night, but left without seeing the woman. Phan also said that he does not believe he's the father of the baby, Troutman said.

"We continued to come up with evidence that led us to believe our suspect was responsible for the victim's death," Troutman said.

An organized search in Bethany Wednesday that drew 300 people was called off after a few hours without discovery of Barnes' body as the investigation shifted from a missing person case to a homicide.

Since Barnes' disappearance, her family and friends have repeatedly said that they did not believe she disappeared voluntarily. She was not carrying her checkbook and her debit card had not been used. A nursery for her unborn baby was being prepared at her house.

"Her cell phone is not turned on, she has her medicine at home upstairs and she doesn't have her car," Kathy McDaniel, Barnes' mother, told KOCO in Oklahoma City.

A woman who answered the phone at Phan's home told ABC News, "We have no comment."

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