Authorities investigating Phylicia Barnes’ tragic death are looking into whether she was the victim of a sex crime.
According to The Baltimore Sun, FBI agents have filed three search warrants requesting access to Phylicia’s email and Facebook accounts. The authorities, who are working with Maryland’s child exploitation task force, are also seeking access to accounts of three other unidentified individuals.
It’s all part of an investigation to determine if her death has anything to do with child pornography or sexual exploitation. The North Carolina honor student was 16 when she disappeared.
Warrants filed in Baltimore’s U.S. District Court were drafted after an investigation turned up explicit material. Lawyers told The Sun that the authorities are using the evidence to gain access to the online accounts, though it’s not clear if Phylicia’s death may have involved a sex crime.
Aside from her Facebook, feds are requesting access to two Yahoo! mail accounts and an AOL email account that include Phylicia’s name.
"This is not a shotgun approach of putting out search warrants to see if it hits something," former FBI agent Chris Swecker, who at one time headed the the agency’s international criminal investigations told The Charlotte Observer. "This is a focused investigation. They’re pulling on a string. And that string is child exploitation."
Warrants filed in early May went public on June 30, and the court documents reveal that federal authorities sought access to three or four other email accounts and three Facebook accounts that seem to be associated with three men from Baltimore. One of the prospective suspects has been questioned by cops before as part of this case.