BALTIMORE, Md. -- The search for 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes came to a heartbreaking end Thursday as authorities confirmed the death of the Monroe teenager who was visiting family in Baltimore.
Her body was found on the Susquehanna River early on Wednesday about 50 miles northeast of Baltimore. The body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Maryland, and based on a tattoo and dental records, the Medical Examiner officially identified the body as Phylicia Barnes.
“All of us ever since that fateful day in December have been praying and hoping for a different outcome,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld.
Authorities still have not determined how Barnes died. According to investigators, there were no obvious signs of injury or trauma. The cause and manner of death are still under investigation.
Just hours after Barnes was pulled from the water on Wednesday, a second body was also found in the water about 4 miles away.
Police have not identified that body, but according to Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan, the body is a man about 6’4” and 230 pounds. Police did recover fingerprints from the body and they are working to identify it and determine if there is a connection to Barnes’ case.
“Other than being in the same river just four miles apart and found within hours of each other, there is no other indication of any connection,” said Col. Sheridan.
Barnes was an honors student at Union Academy in Monroe, North Carolina. She was reported missing on December 28th, just weeks before her 17th birthday.
Barnes was in Maryland to visit three older siblings over the Christmas holiday. A friend of the family told NewsChannel 36 that the family is devastated by the news.
One of Barnes’ sisters, Kelly, also posted a message to her sister on her Facebook page. That message read, “I LOVE U GIRL! Still doesn’t feel real…however I know ill see u again.”
At Union Academy, the school’s rock was painted with a purple ribbon, Phylicia’s name, and the words faith, hope and love.
Baltimore Police detectives have been spear-heading the investigation for the last four months. Now, about a dozen investigators from Maryland State Police will also join the case.
“There is a mountain of investigative work that needs to be done,” said Police Commissioner Bealefeld.
Some medical test results will take weeks, and authorities caution that their investigation will take time.
Police Commissioner Bealefeld told NewsChannel 36, “Our goal is simply to bring closure to Phylicia Barnes’ family, to figure out what happened to her, and to hold those responsible accountable.”