CONYERS, GA (WBTV) - Phylicia Simone Barnes was remembered as a girl who could light up a room, who worked hard, and had a strong faith. The honors student from Union County was laid to rest in Saturday afternoon.
"Nothing they teach us at school could prepare us for this," said Lawrence Sullivan, Dean of Students at Union Academy in Monroe where Phylicia attended high school. Several students attended her funeral.
It was stream live on the Internet, so people who could not be there could still be part of the service at Springfield Baptist Church.
Phylicia disappeared during the holiday break in December after visiting family in Baltimore. Police are investigating her death as a homicide.
Her body was found unclothed in Maryland's Susquehanna River on April 20, nearly 4 months after she vanished from her half-sister's northwest Baltimore apartment three days after Christmas.
On Wednesday, Maryland State Police, along with officers with the Baltimore Police Department released a statement saying an autopsy by the Medical Examiner's office ruled her death a homicide.
While officers say they have determined her cause of death, they are "not releasing that information because it is an important part of the ongoing investigation. To release a cause of death at this time could jeopardize the investigation by revealing information known only to the person or persons responsible for her death."
Phylicia's was found at the same time that police found the body of 53-year-old Darryl Harper, of Virginia, just 4 miles away. Police say they have not found anything to connect the two.
Maryland State Police are leading the death investigation, using 10 detectives to assist Baltimore Police on their case, Shipley said. "This case is a top priority," he said.
Although Phylicia's body has been found, there are still no charges in the case. But police said finding Phylicia's body could be a tremendous help in bringing about justice in the case.
"Without it, it would have been an incredibly difficult case, but now it gives investigators a real opportunity," Baltimore police commissioner Frederick Bealefeld said at a press conference two weeks ago.
Police continue to urge anyone with information regarding the murder of Phylicia Barnes to contact them immediately. Persons with information may call the TIPS Line that has been established since Barnes disappeared at 1-855-223-0033. Or, they can call the Maryland State Police duty officer at 410-653-4200. Calls may be kept confidential.
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