Police comb woods, turn up nothing in search for missing N.C. girl

January 20, 2011|By Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

City police on Thursday night searched the woods behind a Southwest Baltimore apartment building as part of their investigation into a missing 16-year-old girl.

Authorities had concentrated the search on what they described as a well near a shed on a property in the 400 block of North Bend Road, south of Edmonson Avenue in the Westgate community near the Baltimore County line.

After draining the well, at about 10:30 p.m., police said that nothing was found as a result of the search.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that the search was one of about three dozen leads that detectives have investigated over the past 24 days in the search for 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes.

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.

Detectives inteviewed more than a dozen people who had been in and out of the apartment and searched their homes and other property. But police said the stories were consistent and no evidence was found during the searches. They also said there is nothing in Barnes' past to indicate she was involved in any criminal or questionable activity.


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