Now that the death of 16-year-old Phylicia Barnes has been ruled a homicide, the question is, where does the investigation go from here?
Police have not released much information about their case. But the head of a Maryland security firm, who tried to help the Barnes family find Phylicia, says he's confident investigators will track down whoever is responsible.
The discovery of Barnes' body in the Susquehanna River two weeks ago gave investigators a huge amount of information. But it was a profound disappointment to Don Rondeau. He's the president of TSSI, Inc. -- a firm in Montgomery County that provides training and security expertise to the US government, and clients all over the world.
"Because of the nature of the work we do, I'm aware of unpleasant things. But none of those unpleasant things have troubled me as much as the disappearance and subsequent murder of this little girl,' he said.
Rondeau has three children of his own. After Phylicia Barnes disappeared he began volunteering his time and his company's resources to the investigation.
"I consider myself a homeland security professional. I employ the world's best, in my opinion, homeland security professionals. But what are we defending if a child can just disappear?" he said.
Homicide investigators say they're not releasing the cause of Phylicia Barnes' death because they don't want to compromise the investigation. But now that they know it was a homicide, Rondeau says they can focus on the details. "Who had the motivation and access and the time to commit this horrible act -- and then you start to shrink the pool of people that you're looking at,' he said.
Then Rondeau says investigators will develop a suspect and begin building a case. After that, he says, it's only a matter of time. "I certainly believe that the person or persons involved, well, the clock is ticking for them. I think they're up against the wall on this one,' he said.
Rondeau's company has contributed reward money for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Barnes case. He's calling on other local companies to do so as well.