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Charlotte Area

Search Continues For Missing Monroe Teen

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The search for a missing 17-year-old girl from the Charlotte-area is now in its third week. Phylicia Barnes was visiting a family member in Baltimore, Maryland when she went missing over the Christmas holiday. Police suspect foul play and are starting to fear the worst. At Union Academy in Monroe, the girl's schoolmates haven't given up hope. Phylicia Barnes is an honor student and a track star set to graduate early from a public charter school in Monroe. Her disappearance from a family member's home on December 28th continues to baffle police who say they do not believe she ran away. Neither do Phylicia's classmates at Union Academy. The senior class is a tight-knit group of about 60, says guidance counselor Chrissy Rape. "That's why the impact for them has just been devastating, they feel like they have lost their sister," says Rape. "That's how (the students) talk: 'We are not going to give up on our sister.'" The students wear purple ribbons and bracelets - Phylicia's favorite color. They've helped set up a fund for the girl's mother to continue the search. They pepper local media with emails begging for more publicity to keep Phylicia's name and face in the public eye. Rape says many of the students feel frustrated because they can't help look for their friend so far away in Baltimore. "They also have other emotions," says Rape. "They've lost all sense of security - we're talking 17 and 18 year olds who are even afraid to walk to the parking lot." Rape says this is the first time Union Academy has ever lost a student - though teachers and students continue to believe Phylicia will come home. Baltimore police have begun to sound more pessimistic. They're particularly concerned that Phylicia has not answered her phone, updated her Facebook page or made any withdrawals on her bank account since she disappeared. The FBI and National Center for Missing Children are now helping with the investigation. Anyone with information on Phylicia's disappearance is encouraged to contact Baltimore police at 855-223-0033.