Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phylicia Barnes: Body Found, Justice Plods Along

The mysterious tragedy of Phylicia Barnes has come to a tragic end. The mystery is solved by the tragedy remains as her body was discovered in the Susquehanna River north of Conowingo Dam. Hers was a story worthy of much more attention, but in a city where victims of violence and others disappearing whose lost is never accounted for such stories don’t excite the media to the extent such tragedies warrant.

We documented our concerns that the disappearance of an exceptional young lady who had accomplished so much in her young life, a straight A student from Monroe, Carolina, a southeastern suburb of Charlotte where she attended Union Academy planning for early admission to Towson University. Here’s the link highlighting our initial concerns on her case:

Her case received remarkably little attention compared to the horrific disappearance of the recent high school grad and soon to be pre-Med student, Natalee Holloway from Alabama who disappeared during a graduation celebration trip to Aruba. Likewise, the grotesque and sadistic murder of Notre Dame Grad, Cockeysville native, University of Virginia lacrosse star, Yeardley Love pounded to death by her ex-boyfriend in her off-campus apartment. That Phylicia is black and that Holloway and Love are white cannot escape our attention. While Holloway’s disappearance from what would be seen by many as a tropical paradise or the absolutely unspeakable cruelty of Love’s murder might lead to more salivating sensationalism to the ghoulish media, a young girl with so much going for her visiting family over the Christmas holidays should be every bit as compelling from a personal standpoint. Yet, coverage of Natalee Holloway’s murder became a regular fixture on cable news for months after her disappearance and Love’s death was treated as a major national story, Phylicia Barnes received little coverage at all nationally apart from Fox News and CNN. Her mother did appear on Nancy Grace’s crime expose. Locally, WBFF-TV and WBAL-TV provided persistent though not particularly urgent coverage of Barnes case. WBAL-AM radio and Baltimore’s radio stations with news reportage targeted to black audiences certainly covered the case with the passion deserved. Sadly, the tone of a lot of local coverage has been, “another day, another dead young negro” sort of attitude.

So today’s news provides one measure of closure. The worst possible outcome was confirmed, Phylicia Barnes is dead, her body found 50 miles to the northeast away from where she disappeared near a Metro Transit Stop at Reisterstown Plaza in northwest Baltimore. Given a futile recent exhaustive search of a section of Patapsco State Park west of Baltimore and the by chance discovery of her body, one wonders if the case is that riddled with mystery or are there other difficulties standing in the way of an absolutely thorough first rate investigation.

We know who killed Natalee Holloway. His retched presence inhabits a jail in Peru charged with another murder. Whether Joran Van Der Sloot will ever be punished for killing Natalee Holloway remains uncertain, but as long as the punk rots in a Peruvian jail, he is getting his just deserves. George Huguely awaits trail for killing Yeardley Love. Society awaits to see whether Huguely gets the kind of firm and harsh punishment a deranged killer like him deserves for such a violent and hateful murder or will his birth of wealth and privilege buy him a better fate. Investigators haven’t a clue who killed Phylicia Barnes or the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and killing. That her body has been found is only the first step toward justice in this sad case.

The murder of Phylicia Barnes shows the craven cruelty our society is capable of producing and that a lovely young black girl on the threshold of preparing for her destiny robbed of her life so hideously doesn’t pull on society’s heartstrings anywhere near to the extent of two lovely young white girls destroyed under similar circumstances.

Our prayers for young Phylicia and her family and our plea for justice that her murderer be found and punished cry out for action and respect.


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