The arrest late Wednesday of a suspect in the killing of North Carolina teen
Baltimore police, however, clearly took the disappearance seriously. The department at one point had assigned 100 detectives to the case, and it conducted searches of area parks in conjunction with thousands of volunteers from other law enforcement agencies and the public. The fact that they made an arrest in the case nearly a year and a half after Ms. Barnes' disappearance is proof that they never gave up.
What's troubling, though, is the possibility that the department's timetable for moving in on Michael Johnson, Ms. Barnes' sister's ex-boyfriend, who has been arrested in the case, could have been affected by the widening probe into the conduct of the officer who led the investigation in the Barnes case. Mr. Johnson's attorney, Russell Neverdon, has quickly focused on questions about Detective Daniel T. Nicholson IV's suspension amid allegations that he misused his police powers to search for his own daughter, who briefly went missing last week. Authorities are looking into whether Mr. Nicholson conducted an unauthorized search of an apartment and whether others helped him to improperly use phone tracking technology to find his daughter.
If there is a connection between the timing of Mr. Johnson's arrest and the investigation into Mr. Nicholson, that's a real problem. Police have long focused on Mr. Johnson in the Barnes case, but they had not moved forward with an arrest, despite strong public pressure to do so. It would be terrible if, after all these months, authorities took action without having all the evidence they will eventually need.
But even if the two events are a coincidence, Mr. Nicholson's alleged misconduct in the investigation of his own daughter's disappearance could nonetheless present an obstacle for prosecutors in the Barnes case. Mr. Neverdon is already suggesting that if Mr. Nicholson crossed the line in one case, he might have done so in others. "How far does this taint go?" he asked this morning, and will likely ask again if his client appears in front of a jury.