Hundreds gather for Phylicia Barnes' memorial service

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Over seven hundred people put on purple because it was sixteen-year-old Phylicia Barnes' favorite color. They gathered at a church in Monroe to remember her.

"Always smiling," said Phylicia's friend, Arthur Jenkins. "That's what I loved about her. Sweet person."

Over 700 people showed up to celebrate the exceptional personal they all say she was, but their grief was never far below the surface.

"I mean, it's affecting me real bad," Jenkins said, as his eyes filled with tears.

Police still do not know how Phylicia died, or how her body ended up in a river in Maryland.

"It's just a sad, very very sad situation but I feel that she's an angel now, and it's going to be all right," said Arthur's mother, Dorothy. "She's at peace now."

Friends and family are relying on their faith.

"I think it's good because we know she's in a better place, and she's not suffering, she's not hurting anymore," said one of Phylicia's oldest friends, Jeniece Tims. "She's in a better place."

And they wanted to send a message to that better place...dozens of purple balloons. They dotted the sky at sunset, and Phylicia's Mom, Janice Sallis-Mustafa, released the final one.

"I can't express how special she is," Sallis-Mustafa said. "I'm not going to use the word was. Because she's still special."

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