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Timeline of Phylicia Barnes' death

April 26, 2012|By Peter Hermann | Baltimore Sun reporter

April 26, 2011 — The body of the man found in the Susquehanna River at the same time that Barnes' body was found is identified as missing 53-year-old from Richmond, Va. Police said the two deaths are not related.

April 28, 2011 — Dozens of family, friends and others who were drawn to Phylicia Barnes' story and her smile, held a final vigil at Reisterstown Square Apartments — the last place the teenager was seen alive.

May 4, 2011 — Authorities rule the cause of death a homicide but decline to reveal details on how she was killed.

May 7, 2011 — Funeral his held at Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga., where her mother lived. Mourners gathered around her closed casket and a large purple flower display in the shape of a cross, along with a large print of her senior class picture.

June 28, 2011 — Family and friends rally in front of City Hall six months after the disappearance, pleading for answers and hoping that police have not forgotten the case..

July 7, 2011 — It becomes public that authorities have obtained search warrants for email and Facebook accounts belonging to Barnes and at least three other people. Court documents say authorities are seeking access to the accounts as part of a child pornography investigation and sexual exploitation of a minor, though the affidavits that spell out that angle remain sealed and agencies involved in the case refused to comment.

Sept. 25, 2011 — Baltimore County police investigate a report from police Detective Nicholson's 15-year-old daughter that he had beat her on the buttocks and arm with a cable cord after a dispute over her setting up a Facebook page. The girl told police she was hit again when a male called the house.

Nov. 4, 2011 — Authorities charge Nicholson in a criminal summons with second-degree assault.

Nov. 18, 2011 — Baltimore County prosecutors drop the charges in exchange for the family getting counseling. State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger described the charges as parental discipline that may have crossed the line.

Dec. 28, 2011 — A year after Phylicia Barnes disappeared, relatives marked the anniversary pressing for answers as the attorney for Michael Johnson criticized police for focusing on his client. Russell Neverdon said the case is "not progressing" and that police are wasting their time with Barnes' sister's ex-boyfriend. He also alleges that a Baltimore police officer who is related to the girl interfered in the early stages of the investigation. "It disheartens me, how they went about this. It's like the Keystone Kops." Neverdon said detectives collected DNA from his client, questioned him for hours and shown up at his work. "Very pointedly, they have nothing," he said. "If they had it, they would have brought charges."

April 20, 2012 — The 15-year-old daughter of Det. Daniel T. Nicholson IV, the lead detectives on the Barnes' case, runs away from their Baltimore County home, apparently after an argument over grades and social media. Over the weekend, city police in the Public Affairs unit issue a news release seeking help finding the girl, later determined to be unauthorized.

April 24, 2012 — The Baltimore police detective who lead the investigation is suspended after authorities said he allegedly went on a rogue hunt for his own missing daughter. Det. Daniel Thomas Nicholson IV used his badge while off duty to gain entry to homes in an unauthorized search at a Northeast Baltimore apartment over the weekend, according to sources.

April 25, 2012 — Members of the Baltimore Police Department's Warrant Apprehension Task Force arrest Michael Johnson at his girlfriend's apartment. The arrest came about 11:30 p.m., according to his attorney, Neverdon, who alleged police expedited the bust "because they don't want to ruin the credibility of the case" based on Nicholson's suspension. The police union president defends Nicholson, saying, "This shows now only how good a cop he is, but how important his family is to him. The same effort and energy he put into locating Phylicia Barnes, you can see him doing the same for his daughter. That's the kind of cop we want to patrol the streets of Baltimore."

April 26, 2012 — Baltimore police confirm Michael Johnson's arrest in a Twitter announcement at 12:41 a.m. A news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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