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. GodDoesntWantThis

    Phylicia, wherever you may be, I am praying for you daily. This world definitely needs you. God will come through for you and your loving mother. Whoever is involved should realize that God is watching and taking notes so I hope you are prepared for your punishment. When his wrath comes, IT COMES...

    As for the race issue...this is America, there will always be race issues so no need to fuss about it because this is a stubborn society. We will be telling race stories forever. God loves all races because there aren't any races in his eyes. So let him deal with it.

    God send this young lady home to NC and her mom. It's been long enough.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Doug Grosjean

    I'm sorry for your missing daughter.

    I haven't seen my 16 year old son in 7 months. His whereabouts are known – his mother is illegally withholding him. It's a chronic issue, going back 10 years. I've had no contact with him in that time.

    I hope your case is resolved satisfactorily.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. westernpamom

    I am sorry for your loss and hope that your daughter comes home to you. However, I have to dispute that this was not covered by CNN initially. I only look at CNN on the web and saw this story several weeks ago, not many days after she went missing. The majority of Americans see only a missing child and are just as concerned if the child is black or white or any other color.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JoyinMontana

    Why did we hire all the idiots on the police force when we have perfectly capable people right here commenting on this articel?! Mind boggling.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elijah

    Anyone who thinks this is because she was black is a class A moron. Its because she wasnt prominent or wealthy. There are just as many poor white people out there hurting as poor black people. Marquita stop hiding behind your race to conceal your own shortcomings. Thats dumb.

    January 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shawnee

    regardless of race every child missing should b broadcast all over tryn to get attention so we can find them I'm hoping they find this girl

    January 18, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. nick

    no w BEt is owned by bthe white which Tv station do you want her to appear as being missen on BEt is just dance NBa nad music videos

    January 18, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeffision

    It's a shameful fact and nothing new that missing white kids get way more media coverage than missing african american kids do. That's the real race card being played. I hope the media stands up and does the right thing here.

    January 18, 2011 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. steven

    blacks have something 2 complain about all the time. i work with 1. he is the biggest racist. he things white christmas is a racist song that it is telling white people 2 have a white christmas the naacp stands for national accocation of always complaining people. i get tired of it

    January 18, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. erib baumen

    Ron paul 4 president impeach obama

    January 18, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. erib baumen

    Obama is an alien

    January 18, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. E.

    @Jim Brieske So, our President needs to do what YOU tell him to do, and ignore the legal system put in place to maintain civility? YOU are quite the mentalist. If YOU know so much, YOU bring this girl home and martyr yourself. If YOU are unable to do so, then YOU might leave the postings to those whose compassion is for her family, not for promoting thr ridiculous nature of themselves.

    January 18, 2011 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. derek

    Why is no one angry with BET? If we are going to talk about race, lets be honest about demographics.

    January 18, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. sunshine

    We will never really know the motives and heart of man. If we would truly love ourselves then we would be able to love others. The words that I have read shows that their is a lot of prayer and healing needing to take place. Most of all the fear of God.

    January 18, 2011 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. free tryn

    @Casie I kno w what you mean. I'm 57 and don't believe I haven't wanted to "off" myself a few times. Hang in there (l hate that phrase) and volunteer two hours s week. Do it. You'll be amazed at the results. I promise. m

    January 18, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
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