Mother's heartfelt plea to get 'her baby back'
North Carolina honors student Phylicia Barnes, 17, disappeared three days after Christmas.
January 17th, 2011
02:34 PM ET

Mother's heartfelt plea to get 'her baby back'

Editor's note: CNN anchor Don Lemon talks about how the mother of missing 17-year-old Phylicia Barnes made an emotional plea for her daughter's safe return.

I first heard about Phylicia Barnes on Twitter and Facebook over the holidays.  The North Carolina high school honor student had gone to visit her half sister in Baltimore and disappeared three days after Christmas.

Viewers were asking why they hadn't seen her story on CNN. I didn't have an answer for them. Unfortunately, I was on vacation and spending time with my family. But I immediately began to research her story. I found a few articles in the Baltimore papers but not much else.

In those reports, police speculated that the lack of national media response was because the 17-year-old is African-American. They were calling it Baltimore's version of  Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba. But still not much national attention was given.

Case of missing N.C. honor student still a mystery

So, when I returned to work, I asked my producers to reach out to Barnes' family and police in Baltimore. Both agreed to appear on CNN to answer questions.

I met Barnes' mother, Janice Sallis, shortly before we went on air. She gave me a long hug and thanked me for covering her daughter's disappearance on CNN. Her grief was palpable. I couldn't imagine how she was even able to get out of bed and travel to CNN and appear on national television. She said it was only through the grace of God that she was able to make it through the past few weeks, not knowing where her child was and whether she was even alive.

Sallis told me and anyone listening that she believes her daughter is still "with us." Sallis said she believes her daughter is alive but fears she is being tortured somewhere.

And in a surprising moment, Sallis turned to the camera and made a direct and emotional plea to anyone with information on her daughter's disappearance. It was stunning and sad to watch. But I'm glad she did it.

Although police suspect the teenager would have received more coverage if she were white, her mother didn't want to dwell on that aspect. She said at this point race and social issues weren't important to her. She just "wants her baby back."

Let's hope that happens.

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Filed under: Maryland • Missing Children • TV-CNN Newsroom
soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. Disturbing

    The bottome line anyone can play a part in foul play. That being said that can be a stranger, a friend or family member. Everyone should be investigated. As the saying goes, when ever someone is missing most chances is it will always be the last person that saw the victim before they disappeared. In this case, it was the ex-boyfriend. In previous articles it was mentioned Phylicia the victim did not get along with the ex-boyfriend. Why was he moving out?

    January 19, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. babygerl

    that was just messed up wat happen to that gurl in that had of a life time i felt bad for her mother

    January 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RMBS

    For the Love of God would everyone get over themselves and try to help find this poor girl. All those pulling the race card is deflecting attention away from this missing child. White, Black, or Plaid, a missing child is a missing child no matter her race.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Seflo

    This is a trafficking case..... The port really near by... daughter is drugged. They said she walked out and went to the store. I would NEVER.... I repeat NEVER!!! walk in Baltimore without a gun. WHY!!!! WHY!!! WHY!!! Would the sister have her baby sister walk by herself in BALTIMORE....

    January 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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