Family elated by arrest in Phylicia Barnes' murder case

Victim's father says he suspected Michael Johnson

BALTIMORE - The vigils began within days of Phylicia Barnes' disappearance, but they would bring little comfort to her distraught mother.

"Every moment it feels like I'm going through labor pains over and over and over again.  I don't need this circle.  I need my baby found."

Less than four months later, workers at the Conowingo Dam spotted her nude body in the Susquehanna River.

If 28-year old Michael Johnson remained on detectives' radar, his ex-girlfriend, Phylicia's sister, Deena, gave no indication of it at yet another vigil in June.

"She may be gone, but she's not forgotten, and we're not giving up.  We're going to keep pressing, keep moving forward and we're going until this case may be resolved."

Reached by telephone in Atlanta, Phylicia's father, Russell Barnes, suggested the family suspected Johnson all along.

"It is the way it is.  We suspected a lot of things on day one, and we couldn't understand why people would not help look for your child when they're missing.  So I guess the state feels that way.  They city feels that way.  So we're looking for Michael Johnson to prove that he had nothing to do with Phylicia's murder... you know... nothing at all... and that's what it is."

Barnes' father also got on the telephone to Don Rondeau---a missing persons advocate who befriended the family early on… even providing them with reward money out of his own pocket.

"We were silent for a moment... really both of us trying to process what this meant.  For a moment, there is a sense of elation and relief, but then you come back to earth and understand this is just part of the process.  It's part of the legal process and necessary stuff and critical stuff that puts us one step closer to getting justice for Phylicia Barnes and justice for this family."

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