BALTIMORE, MD-- Baltimore police said they arrested a man in the death of a Monroe teenager whose body was found in a nearby river after she went missing in 2010 while visiting family in the area.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Michael Johnson was arrested in the death of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes of Monroe.
Johnson, who previously had dated Barnes' sister Deena, was the last person to see Barnes alive. Phylicia's brother, Bryan, said Johnson dated Deena for eight or nine years so he's known Johnson since he was a child.
Johnson was arrested at his home about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. He is charged with first-degree murder.According to WBAL radio in Baltimore, the cause of death is asphyxiation.
I was overjoyed. In fact I stayed up most of the night sending messages to all of my friends and a lot of people that was there to support us, said Phylicia s cousin Harry Watson.
Police say Johnson and Phylicia Barnes were the only people in Deena's apartment the day the teen disappeared. Johnson told police that Barnes told him she was going out to get something to eat.
Johnson reportedly had been questioned eight times by police, but it is not clear why Baltimore police decided to make the arrest now.
Barnes' body was found on the Susquehanna River last April 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 Barnes.
Barnes was an honors student at Union Academy in Monroe. She was reported missing on December 28, just weeks before her 17th birthday. She was in Maryland to visit three older siblings over the Christmas holiday.
Union Academy officials said they'll always keep her picture up as a memory.
Phylicia was taken from us, but we are still going to be dealing with this as a family, as a community (and) as a school, said principal Lawrence Sullivan.
Guglielmi said there are no other suspects in the case and the family is elated over the news.