Police in Maryland have made an arrest in the slaying of Phylicia Barnes, a North Carolina teen whose body was found floating in a river after she vanished while visiting relatives in Baltimore.
Michael Johnson was taken into custody late Wednesday night by a Baltimore City Police Warrant Apprehension Task Force. Johnson is reportedly the ex-boyfriend of Barnes' older half-sister. Authorities have confirmed Johnson’s arrest in Barnes' homicide, but have yet to comment on any specific charges that have been filed against Johnson.
Barnes, 16, was visiting Baltimore in 2010 when she disappeared during the Christmas holidays. She was last seen on the afternoon of Dec. 28, 2010, at the Baltimore apartment of her 27-year-old half-sister, Deena Barnes. Authorities were immediately suspicious. Phylicia Barnes was a straight-A student who had never been in any previous trouble with the law.
"This is not a runaway," Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said at the time of Barnes' disappearance. "We suspect some type of foul play. The question is: What kind of foul play?"
In the days following Barnes' disappearance, Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told AOL News that the case was not receiving enough national attention.
"We would really like the national outlets to help us out here ... It has been incredibly frustrating for me," Guglielmi said. "We've been pitching this since the 29th [and] have not gotten any traction. This case is no different than the Natalee Holloway case. The only difference is Phylicia is from North Carolina, she went missing in Baltimore and she is African American."
Guglielmi added, "I just think if we could get America just to see her picture -- that is all we are asking -- maybe that will lead detectives to a break and save this young lady's life."
Unfortunately, the search for Barnes came to a tragic end on April 20, 2011, when her body was pulled from the Susquehanna River in northeastern Maryland near the Conowingo Dam. Barnes' death was ruled a homicide by the office of the chief medical examiner in Maryland, but authorities have declined to release the cause of death.
"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."
According to the Baltimore state attorney's office, authorities have scheduled a press conference for Thursday at 1 p.m. to discuss the latest developments in the case.
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