When Phylicia Barnes went missing in Baltimore in December, media coverage on the case was sparse at best, especially when compared to other missing young girls in recent history, says blogger Sasha Brown-Worsham. Natalee Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba still makes headlines Barnes, a black, straight-A student from North Carolina who was 16 when she disappeared, registered barely a blip on the media radar. On Wednesday, her body was found in the Susquehanna River 40 miles northeast of Baltimore near a second body.
In January, Anthony Guglielmi, a Baltimore Police spokesman, said he was frustrated by efforts to bring the case national attention and thus, maybe, save Barnes’ life. He and the commander of the homicide unit had been prepared to go on CNN to talk to legal commentator Nancy Grace, but they were bumped. for an hour-long report on a missing Texas cheerleader. Brown-Worsham discusses the media’s “missing white woman syndrome,” comparing coverage of the Barnes case with that of Elizabeth Smart, Laci Peterson, and Holloway. (Police are still gathering evidence to establish any criminal acts in the Barnes case; her cause of death was not immediately known.)