Facebook, email access sought by feds in Phylicia Barnes Md. murder case

Chief Medical Examiner David Fowler says that Barnes was the only missing person in the area who matched the age and gender of the body that was found. He says her dental records were the only set police submitted for comparison and were used to make the identification.
Personal Photo
North Carolina student Phylicia Barnes was murdered, say police
Phylicia Barnes
Personal Photo

(CBS/WJZ/AP)BALTIMORE - Federal authorities are seeking access to multiple e-mail and Facebook accounts, including some bearing the name of slain North Carolina teen Phylicia Barnes, as part of an investigation of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children. 

Pictures: Phylicia Barnes

Applications for search warrants filed in May were unsealed last week, but authorities won't comment on the ongoing investigation.

Barnes, 16, disappeared in late December while visiting her sister in northwest Baltimore, reports CBS affiliate WJZ.

The case sparked a massive search for the North Carolina native that ended in April when her naked body was found in the Susquehanna River. Police investigators labeled it a murder but have refused to say how she was killed.

"They believe it's important to the integrity of the investigation to withhold that information right now," said Greg Shipley, Maryland State Police, reports the station.

Now U.S. District Court documents reveal detectives are using a child pornography investigation to gain access to email accounts and Facebook accounts linked to Barnes and others.

In these applications for search warrants obtained by the Baltimore Sun, authorities ask to search four Facebook accounts, six separate Yahoo! email accounts- including two with Phylicia's name- and one AOL email account for evidence of crimes, including sexual exploitation of children and distribution and possession of child pornography.

Affidavits related to the case remain sealed but Barnes' father Russell Barnes and her brother Bryan Barnes both told WJZ they had been aware of the search warrants for months and said the warrants were all part of a thorough investigation by police to find whoever killed Phylicia.

As her family waits for justice, they are "trying to figure out what happened and why it happened and who did it and getting that person behind bars so it won't happen to anybody else," said Bryan Barnes, according to the station.

No word yet from investigators if those email and Facebook accounts have provided any useful information.

Complete Coverage of Phylicia Barnes on Crimesider