Baltimore, MD- Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told The Associated Press on Wednesday April 25, 2012 they have arrested a man in the death of North Carolina teenager whose body was found in a nearby river after she went missing in 2010 while visiting family in the area.
Anthony Guglielmi, the police department’s spokesman, identified the man as Michael Johnson.
Johnson, who previously had dated Barnes’ sister Deena, reportedly was the last person to see Barnes alive.
Johnson’s attorney confirmed the arrest to several news outlets in Baltimore. He said his client was arrested at his home about 11:30 p.m. Baltimore police have scheduled a news conference for Thursday to discuss developments in the case.
Barnes, a student at Union Academy in Monroe, was visiting her sister at Christmas in 2010 when she disappeared. Police launched a massive search across the Baltimore area but failed to find a trace of her.
Police say Johnson told them Phylicia had left her sister’s apartment around midday Dec. 28, 2010, supposedly to get something to eat. She was not seen alive again. Initially, the search was focused around the Reistertown Square Apartments, the northwest Baltimore complex where Deena lived. But in subsequent weeks, the search widened across Maryland and several other adjacent states.
Johnson reportedly had been questioned eight times by police, but it is not clear why Baltimore police decided to make the arrest now. It also is not clear what he has been charged with.
In April 2011, Barnes’ body was found floating in the Susquehanna River, near the Conowingo Dam. That is about 50 miles north of Baltimore.
Police later said they determined Barnes had been a homicide victim. But they have not said how she died.
Court records show that Deena Barnes went to court in early March of 2011, seeking an injunction to keep Johnson away from her. A judge ruled against that request. Russell Barnes, Phylicia’s father, told the Baltimore Sun, “We feel this was there all along. No one [in Baltimore] knew Phylicia but the immediate family; he dated Deena [Phylicia's sister] for over 10 years and Phylicia was part of his life. … We will let the facts come out. Justice will be dealt with.”
The Associated Press, Charlotte Observer and The Baltimore Sun contributed.