“On the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of honors teen Phylicia Simone Barnes, I have chosen to publish a series of articles which highlight her older sister’s perspective pertaining to the child’s tragic killing and the circumstances surrounding the ensuing criminal cases that followed, and her efforts to launch a national campaign through clothing apparel to memorialize her kid sister, and to bring awareness to the issue of missing, abused, and exploited children everywhere. These articles will be dedicated to the late child’s memory. The interview with Shauntel Sallis-Evans by The People’s Champion Blog, will be the first comments she has made to media about her sister’s murder of any kind. May justice prevail and that young Simone rest in eternal peace.”
— David B. Adams, Crime Blogger
For most, the Christmas season is a joyous time of year where family gatherings are the focus of holiday activities. Most families continue festive traditions with corals and other songs of cheer, in preparation for the countdown to the New Year. This season is also one of the most saddening as well for some families who have fell upon hard times, are experiencing the holidays without certain loved ones for the first time, and others experience haunting reminders of tragic events that occurred around this time of year, resulting in the lost of a close relative. One such family that has had to endure the horrors of such tragedy every Christmas for five years is the relatives of the late Phylicia Simone Barnes, the book smart honors teen from Monroe North Carolina who disappeared in Baltimore exactly five years ago today, while visiting her half siblings over the Christmas holiday in 2010. Her disappearance garnered national media attention which was rare for a missing child of color. While many may have forgotten about the pretty and studious child’s tragic ending, her older sister prepares to fight on to seek justice for her kid sister.
The horrifying ordeal went on for months while city, state, and federal authorities conducted searches throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area in a failed attempt to locate the missing child. Sadly, in the spring of 2011 when the chilled waters of the Susquehanna River began to thaw, the nude decomposing body of a young female emerged and was discovered by workers near the Conowingo Dam in Northern Maryland. State police and medical examiners used the tattoo of a red rose located on the ankle of the body to identify the remains as the Barnes teen. The grueling discovery dashed any hopes that Phylicia had simply run off on her own without notifying her family. Such a scenario was the initial posture of the Baltimore police when the child was first reported missing. Her death drew closer attention to the people she was around prior to disappearing, and from the very start, the little girl’s family became suspicious about what they were being told.
In the first interview with media of any kind Shauntel Sallis who is the older sister of the Barnes teen, shared her perspective with The People’s Champion Blog regarding her sister’s murder case. Her account depicts what it was like on the ground in Baltimore when they were notified that Phylicia was missing. When news first broke about the 16 year old’ s disappearance from her older half sister’s West Baltimore apartment, her mother and stepfather had to travel from the south, and her older sister came from the New York Tri-state area in the north. They all converged on an apartment complex off of Reisterstown Road in Baltimore Maryland. As the teen’s relatives began questioning a volume of people around the complex, looking for clues to help establish Phylicia’s whereabouts, an eerie innervation and disturbing narrative began to emerge pertaining to what the child’s immediate family was being told about her disappearance. Phylicia’s oldest sister Shauntel Sallis said she recalls immediately developing the impression that those who were around her little sister were lying, extremely secretive, and appeared to be collectively covering up details about what happened to young Phylicia Barnes.
Unable to obtain any meaningful progress in determining what happened to the teen, her family began scouring around the streets of the city in an effort to locate the child. Shauntel who isn’t familiar with Baltimore, contacted her son’s father, a Rap Music recording artist, who immediately dispatched several people in Baltimore City to accompany the Sallis family during their search for Phylicia. After spending hours walking the streets, visiting night clubs, and other known hangouts for youths in Baltimore, the little girl’s family search efforts fell short of locating her. That’s when Shauntel says she began a more direct approach to get answers. She asked her mother who was the last person to see Phylicia, and she said her mother responded “Michael” (Phylicia’s oldest half sister boyfriend Michael Johnson). She asked for his cellphone number and called him.
Shauntel said that as she began to question him, “he was obviously nervous, stuttering, and appeared evasive” to her questions. She asked him where was Phylicia when he arrived at the apartment, and he said “she was in the shower,” a revelation that Shauntel said was very alarming because her sister was alone in such a vulnerable and uncompromising situation with him (Michael) being there. She went on to inquire about what he was actually doing. She said he initially told her that he was “moving his property out of the apartment,” and then under further questioning he stated that he was “doing laundry.” When she challenged him pertaining to the discrepancy in his account, he claim to have started a load of laundry and was moving belongings out of the apartment while her kid sister was taking a shower.
The older sister’ account confirms what earlier speculation suggested that Johnson was there while the Barnes teen was in fact bathing, an aspect that angered followers of this case, and cited concerns as to why the older Barnes female (her half sister) wasn’t more proactive about insuring the physical safety of the child. Shauntel told TPC that after efforts to physically locate her sister failed she believed Phylicia was already gone (deceased). Also Shauntel said that Phylicia had come to her in a dream and warned her that everyone at the older half sister’s apartment were all involved in what happened to her. She further believes that the dream had tremendous merit because what Simone told her in the dream, confirmed what she was feeling while on the ground asking questions and trying to find her.
Just like Phylicia’s mother Janice Mustafa believed, Shauntel also suspected that the child’s father was complicit in efforts to cover up what happened to young Phylicia. Shauntel recalled Russell Barnes (Phylicia’s biological father) and his half brother Sgt. Jackson of the Baltimore police, telling Janice and Raheem Mustafa (parents) that Jackson was in charge of Phylicia’s disappearance case. Its a revelation that has never been made public, and a very interesting element of the child’s disappearance case since Baltimore police found no wrong doing on Jackson’s part, after he showed up at the apartment where Phylicia was staying with her half sister on the day she went missing, and began questioning people. Jackson was never assigned to the missing person investigation, and Shauntel believes like many others, that Jackson’s role, along with his brother Russell Barnes during the crucial hours of her disappearance may have in fact helped the perpetrators responsible for the murder of her sister.
Shauntel goes on to point out that there were a volume of inconsistencies in the stories that were given to her by Deena Barnes (Phylicia’s half sister) and her boyfriend Michael Johnson. For instance, she says that when she questioned Michael, that he told her the front door to Deena’s apartment was always left open (suggesting that anyone could have entered the apartment and killed the child). After speaking with him she immediately called Deena, and challenged her on why the door to the apartment was always open. Shauntel said that she overheard Deena asking Michael, “Did you tell her that about my front door?” She explained that it was very telling for Deena and Michael to be “laid up” together somewhere while Phylicia was missing, and growing suspicion was developing related to Michael’s potential knowledge about the child’s whereabouts.
The story initially offered to police that Phylicia went to purchase food in the nearby business district is just one of a volume of untruths that Shauntel believes were deliberate deflections and obstacles that were crafted to orchestrate a cover up regarding what happened to young Phylicia, by her own father, his brother Sgt. Jackson, her older half sister Deena Barnes, and Michael Johnson. More importantly, Shauntel told TPC that “I believe they both (Michael and Deena) know what happened to Simone.” Her perspective on what happened and why she believes Phylicia was killed is perhaps an extremely profound aspect of the entire case that has never been made public. While Michael Johnson has largely been on the hook for the demise of such a promising kid, Shauntel believes that Deena was complicit in what happened to her kid sister as well. She says that she could tell that Deena was hiding something.
On the “Peas and Their Pods” Radio Broadcast when the Barnes siblings were interviewed about their baby sister’s disappearance, Deena Barnes was specifically questioned about allegations that Phylicia had fallen asleep on top of Michael Johnson, a claim that Deena vehemently denied during the Blogtalk radio show. It was a rumor which implied that a sexual relationship had transpired between the Barnes teen and Michael Johnson, and further explored by investigators who discovered that Johnson had shared over 500 text messages with the child over a span of several months. When asked whether she believed that her sister had sex with Johnson, Shauntel said “I believe without Deena knowing, sounds crazy but this whole thing is bananas. I feel they started as a group thing (Phylicia, Michael, and Deena having sex together) then Michael took it to the next level, i.e. the text messages etc…”
Shauntel further explains that she struggles with Michael’s ability to text message his girl friend’s baby sister all of those times without some issue developing. She believes Michael couldn’t have text her at such a volume of times without Deena sanctioning it. She points out other factors that doesn’t make sense and supports her group sex theory. When Deena Barnes testified during Michael Johnson’s first trial that she had witnessed him attempting to touch Phylicia in the nether regions (vagina area) of her body, her failure to be proactive about resolving his perverted actions, seems to suggest that such behavior wasn’t uncommon in their social setting. Deena testified that she asked Johnson, “Did I just see try to feel on my sister.” Shauntel says that’s about the time that Deena should have called her uncle who is a cop, to have the situation properly dealt with, and Michael should have never been allowed to have contact with Phylicia ever again. She says that Deena may have only challenged Michael on the fondling incident because “she didn’t say it was okay to be freaky yet.”
Shauntel Sallis also pointed out that the “sex video” that depicted Phylicia, Deena, Michael, Michael’s younger brother, and allegedly William Johnson (a cousin), streaking nude in and out of the apartment, and onto the playground of an adjacent school, was just a test to see how far Phylicia would go in preparation to introduce her to group sex. She believes the very fact that Deena condoned Phylicia’s participation in such activity was extremely compelling, and supports her theory that Phylicia was involved in group sex with the pair (Deena and Michael) as well as other males who were regulars frequenting Deena’s West Baltimore apartment. Other factors of her group sex theory Shauntel says is, “The way that ‘Bootz’ or Glenton (Michael’s younger brother) was talking about her during his testimony in the first trial, his demeanor, and like he was mad that he wasn’t the top of her list. Especially for him to say he slept with Simone x number of times as if it’s cool.”
Her main concern after all of this time has always been, how at the very least, no one captured “Streaking” nude in the sex video with her kid sister, have never been charged with a crime. She points out that the “sex video” was captured in July of 2010, and Phylicia would only have been 15-years-old at the time when the video was created. She believes that public nudity, indecent exposure, and while involving a minor child captured on video should be sufficient grounds to file charges for child endangerment at the very minimum, for the adults seen on film in the video. Shauntel says she has been beating down prosecutor Lisa Goldberg’s office door ever since. When she finally caught up with Goldberg, Shauntel says she was hostile, and advised her that she didn’t want to argue with her about the case. Shauntel said that Goldberg eventually told her that her mother Janice Mustafa (Phylicia’s mother) had requested that prosecutors not provide any information related to the prosecution of the case with Shauntel. This discovery Shauntel said, has angered her because her mother made negative comments in various other TPC articles in the past. The pair have had a contentious relationship to say the least, since this entire tragic ordeal unfolded, and revealing the particulars at this time serves no productive purpose.
Missteps By Investigators
Prior to Phylicia being discovered in the Susquehanna River near the Conowingo Dam in Northern Maryland, her disappearance case had been assigned to Baltimore police detective Nicholson, but because of the location of her remains, the Maryland State Police took over the murder investigations once her cause of death was determined to be a homicide. Shauntel discussed very important elements of the case and wondered why investigators along with prosecutors haven’t found a lot of information useful in the process of determining who murdered Phylicia. She doesn’t understand how the tweet from one of the girl friends of the males that cops originally interviewed isn’t a vital piece of information, Phylicia went missing on December 28 and just a month later on January 28, the girl friend tweets “Its trapped at the dam, don’t pull the lever.” Shauntel says that there is no way that’s a mere coincidence, but the prosecutors never mentioned the tweet during either of the trials.
The Twitter Girl
Like most people closely following this case, its just mind blowing that cops failed to connect the dots with that kind of information. With it being widely known that a volume of young males were regular hangouts around Deena’s apartment, mostly who were relatives of Michael Johnson, the social media accounts of many of these young men were perhaps very crucial in determining what people may have known during the course of the murder investigation. It was actually crime “websluethers” who found the twitter information by the girl friend of a Johnson cousin and turned it over to the Maryland State Police investigator, but Shauntel is among a number of people who question whether the state police and the Baltimore police ever shared investigative notes related to this crime. Other social media information turned over to the police by the public, point to the potential involvement of some of Michael’s family members, but for some reason prosecutors never made mention of the highly circumstantial information during either of Johnson’s criminal trials.
TPC received a volume of information pertaining to the Johnson family which outlined their Matriarch and Patriarch, businesses and property that they owned, and various social media content that were extracted from the web. I forwarded all of that information to Shauntel Sallis who advised me that she was aware of much of the information entailed within the social media content, and what stuck out to her the most was the Tweet from Glenton “Bootz” Johnson, who tweeted “Don’t tell her twice, whoop her ass,” literally minutes just before Michael Johnson says he reportedly last saw Phylicia. Shauntel says “Yes, that tweet made me boil, like I can feel something in that message. Bootz’ tweet, ‘Whoop her ass don’t tell her twice’, it’s like I can feel what Simone went through, she was scared to death before they killed her.”
Shauntel also discussed with TPC how her little sister’s killing almost seems like a hit. She believes it appeared that Kelly Barnes and Deena Barnes, Phylicia’s two older half sister knew to stay away because they were knowledgeable of what was going to happen to the child. Kelly Barnes lived just a few blocks away from the apartment where Phylicia was staying with Deena, but despite either of the two older woman’s inability to contact Phylicia most of that day, Kelly who was reported suppose to be off from work that day, was also schedule to pick Phylicia up to go shopping for beauty supplies, and make a hair dresser appointment. The fact that Kelly never went by the apartment to check on Phylicia has outraged followers of this heartbreaking story.
The social media content that was allegedly turned over to police is almost like a blue print if properly studied, with knowledge of street vernacular, and a little common sense. The tweets between the Johnson males on the day that Phylicia went missing is for the most part the very core of the investigation surrounding the murder of young Phylicia Barnes, and like most people who think logically, Shauntel is angered by the police seemingly inability or lack of professional skill to sift through the available information to find out what most people who have read the social media content already know, that Michael wasn’t the only person who was alone with Phylicia the day he was at the apartment allegedly moving out. Strong circumstantial evidence suggest that Michael (aka “Ease”) was riding along Rolling Road in Baltimore County with his younger brother “Bootz” during the early afternoon hours on the day that Phylicia went missing, and may have even transported Michael to Deena’s apartment. After personally viewing the information from the public that TPC forwarded to her, she says that she believes the tweets tell it all.
Johnson Male Tweets
Shauntel expressed serious doubt that Michael killed her little sister because he wanted to have sex with her. “Why would he kill her for that? He already got the cookie (An inference to her group sex with Deena and Michael theory). I believe he killed her for what she knew. That’s what I would like to know, what did she know or see that led to her murder? It was someone who knew her and close because they got rid of her body and made it seem as if nothing happened. Shauntel also believes that who ever was responsible for Phylicia’s murder also had to know her mother. “They didn’t call her (mom), too many lies and secrets, and a stranger wouldn’t do all that covering and cleaning up.”
Michael told Shauntel that Deena had gotten on her little sister for giving her cellphone number to some guy in a green galant, but when I inquired as to why that was never made public before or mentioned by police, Shauntel explains that it was just lies that Deena and Michael had told her family during the cover up. In fact, there is a lot of information that was given to Baltimore police detective Nicholson who traveled to New York to interview Shauntel during the course of the investigation, and she explains that she advised him of everything that she has told TPC. However, she believes much of that information may not have made it to state police investigators once Phylicia’s body was found in their jurisdiction, and the personal troubles that Nicholson experienced related to his criminal charges that derived from a disappearance case concerning his own daughter who is also a minor.
Shauntel also expressed concern that her mother allowed Russell Barnes to be the spokesperson in the media pertaining to Phylicia’s murder case, when he knew absolutely nothing about her, wasn’t active in her life, and for the most part gave false details about her to the media. She stands firm on the belief that Russel along with his brother who is a cop (Sgt. Jackson) were vital in the cover up of Phylicia’s killing, in an effort to protect his other kids, mainly Deena Barnes. Shauntel believes that the only reason that her sister’s case is not still in the media, is because of her mother’s abscence in advocating for her child. “I know people are wondering, where is this child’s mother?’
To Be Continued …
The People’s Champion
I’m Crime Blogger David Adams