Baltimore Sun

Search for missing teen comes up empty

A hours-long search behind an apartment complex in Southwest Baltimore Thursday night came up empty in the hunt for Phylicia Barnes. It's not clear what drew police to a backyard shed, but they pumped water from a well and found nothing inside.

Police described the search as one of many they've done since Barnes, 17, disappeared Dec. 28 from her sister's Northwest Baltimore apartment. Police have searched the homes of people who had access to the apartment and questioned more than a dozen men, but have reported not a single lead in the case.

On Thursday, authorities were at a property off the 400 block of North Bend Road, near Edmonson Avenue close to the Baltimore County line.  The photo at left by The Sun's Gene Sweeney Jr. shows the search.


Barnes, from Monroe, N.C., had been visiting her half-sister in an apartment near the Reisterstown Road Shopping Center in Northwest Baltimore. The 16-year-old honor-student had planned on moving to Baltimore and attending Towson University after graduating early from high school.

She was last seen by her sister's boyfriend as he left the apartment on the afternoon of Dec. 28. She was asleep on the couch. Police and family members have said she sent text messages to her sister indicating she was leaving to find lunch.


Barnes never returned and police said they found no trace of her whereabouts. She never used her debit card, her cell phone had either been turned off or broken and there were no sightings of her.

Police deployed half the homicide unit, flooded the neighborhood with posters and sought national television exposure, saying they believed she was the victim of foul play or had been abducted and taken out of state.

The girl's father has visited Baltimore from Atlanta and led searches with volunteers, and the FBI flew over the city two helicopters with special heat-seaking equipment designed to pinpoint heat signatures given off by decaying bodies. Nothing was found. Police also searched a portion of Leakin Park, located south of the sister's apartment and a notorious dumping ground for bodies, but found nothing.