The body of a missing 16-year-old North Carolina girl was found in a river near Baltimore Thursday.
A body found in a river in northeast Maryland is a North Carolina teen who disappeared in the area while she was visiting her relatives over the Christmas holidays, Baltimore police said.
Authorities confirmed that the body was Phylicia Barnes, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Maryland medical examiners compared Phylicia's dental records with the body. She was the only missing person in the area matching the age and gender of the body.
Phylicia, of Monroe, N.C., disappeared Dec. 28 while visiting her older half-siblings. Her 17th birthday was Jan. 12.
Phylicia's body was one of two pulled from the Susquehanna River north of the Conowingo Dam on Wednesday. It is not clear if there is any connection between her and the body of a man found three or four miles away.
A cause of death was not available, Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said.
Phylicia's family and friends had raised more than $35,000 in reward money to help solve the case. Her mother and stepfather declined to comment on the identification of the body.
Soon after the teen vanished, Baltimore police alerted local media saying her disappearance was unusual because she had no history of disputes with her family or trouble with the law. Police called it one of the strangest and most vexing missing persons cases they had investigated, and, despite getting help from the FBI, they had few leads.
Guglielmi began describing it as “Baltimore's Natalee Holloway case.” The Barnes case did not get as much attention as the disappearance of the Alabama teen in Aruba, but Phylicia's mother said in January that she did not feel slighted.
“My daughter is not the only child that's missing. Other children need their time, too,” Janice Sallis said. “I appreciate all that has been done for her and us thus far, and it's quality, not quantity, that's important to me.”
Police worked to keep the search for Phylicia public, posting a smiling photo of her from her Facebook page on electronic billboards along highways in the Baltimore region. The effort spurred scores of tips, but none panned out.
More than 100 police officers combed a northwest Baltimore park in the weeks after she vanished, but found no clues to her whereabouts. Earlier this month, hundreds of law enforcement officers and volunteers searched a state park south of Baltimore and leafleted the area of the city where she was last seen. That daylong effort again failed to turn up any clues and police said they were “back at square one.”
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