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Thursday, April 26, 2012
Justice For Phylicia ~ Finally....
Arrest made in Phylicia Barnes case
By Justin Fenton and Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun
An arrest has been made in connection with the killing of Phylicia Barnes, the 16-year-old from North Carolina who vanished while visiting family in Northwest Baltimore in 2010 and was found dead months later in the Susquehanna River.
Word broke late Wednesday from Barnes' relatives, and was confirmed by authorities. The attorney for Michael Johnson, the former boyfriend of Phylicia's older sister, confirmed that his client had been taken into custody at about 11:30 p.m. on unknown charges. Johnson had been the last person to see her alive.
Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed that Johnson was arrested in connection with the Barnes' killing, but could not elaborate on the charges filed. An announcement was expected Thursday morning.
Russell Neverdon, Johnson's attorney, said his client maintains his innocence. He said members of the Warrant Apprehension Task Force came to Johnson's house, arrested him, and took the keys to the house. He said he had previously instructed his client not to answer any questions in the event of his arrest.
Barnes' case attracted national media attention. The honors student disappeared without a trace, and detectives worked round-the-clock in an effort to find her. Her body was later found floating in the Susquehanna River nearly a year ago to the day. The case sparked a bill in the Maryland legislature called "Phylicia's Law," which supporters say will improve coordination between law enforcement and community groups in missing children cases.
Reached by phone, Phylicia's father, Russell Barnes, said the family was "rejoicing" over news of the arrest. He said the family had long suspected Johnson. He said he believes the new Phylicia's Law helped thrust the case back into the spotlight.