Barnes' classmates mourn her death, hang ribbons in her memory

Today was students' first day back at school since the discovery of Barnes' body

April 25, 2011|By The Charlotte Observer

MONROE, N.C. — — Officials at Phylicia Barnes' school said Monday that Union Academy has been in mourning since learning about her death.

Barnes, a senior at the North Carolina school, was 16 when she disappeared from her half sister's apartment in Baltimore on Dec. 28. Her body was discovered last week in the Susquehanna River near Conowingo Dam, about 40 miles north of the city. On Thursday, the state medical examiner identified the body as Barnes.

As Union Academy, students returned from spring break Monday, flags were at half-staff and grief counselors were on duty. Purple ribbons were hung on trees and elsewhere around campus.

"We had persevered in hope that Phylicia would be returned to her family, … but that was not the case," Raymond Reinsant, headmaster at Union Academy, said during a news conference Monday morning.

"There are many emotions flowing from the community — the first, of course, is great sympathy for her parents. The second is the anger that her classmates and friends feel."

Victoria Brown, a senior, said that when she and her friends learned last week that Barnes' body had been found, they all gathered at Brown's house and spent the night there.

"We all cried and laughed together and shared memories," she said.

A memorial service is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lee Park Baptist Church in Monroe.. Thursday will mark the four-month anniversary of Barnes' disappearance.

Maryland State Police and Baltimore City police are jointly investigating the girl's death, as well as that of an unidentified man whose body was recovered from the Susquehanna the same day that Barnes' body was discovered.

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