A day after Mother’s Day, Pauline Bailey received devastating news about the latest search to find her daughter, Phylicia Thomas, missing for more than 14 years.
A search of farmland along Timber Lane Road in Hunlock Township involving five canines and two handlers last week was fruitless.
Despite Bailey’s hopes being crushed once again, she remains committed to finding and bringing Thomas home, said her friend, Judy Fisher.
“She is very disappointed. We all are,” Fisher said. “We know Phylicia is there on that farm. We all know it.”
State police conducted the one-day search last week as part of their continuing investigation into finding Thomas. Canines trained in detecting human decomposition were led around most of the 25-acre farm, returning no results of skeletal remains.
Trooper Tom Kelly, Troop P public information officer, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Results of the search were relayed to Bailey in a phone call Monday.
“State police called me and they needed to get in touch with Pauline,” Fisher said, noting Bailey does not have a cell phone. “They started out by telling us that they went out there to search with five canines and handlers. Finally, Pauline said, ‘Excuse me, did the dogs hit, yes or no?’ That’s when they said ‘No, the dogs didn’t hit.’”
Fisher said Bailey and her daughter, Jocelyn Thomas, walked away from the phone call after being told the news.
“Pauline just kept saying, ‘Everybody is lying, people who were there are lying, 14 years of people telling us she’s there and they’re lying,’” Fisher recalled.
Fisher said the call with police lasted about eight minutes.
The search for Thomas began Feb. 13, 2004, when Bailey reported her missing to the now defunct Lake Township Police Department. State police didn’t get involved until later that year.
Bailey and Fisher believe Thomas was killed while attending a party in a house trailer on the 25-acre farm on Feb. 11, 2004. The house trailer has since been razed and the property sold in December 2015 to a new owner.
They believed Thomas’ body was initially placed in a barn across from the house trailer and then buried in a vegetable garden on the farm.
Bailey and Fisher said information about what happened to Thomas came from several people who attended the party.
The Times Leader published an investigative piece reflecting the new leads in January, which included information on an independent cadaver dog search Fisher arranged in August 2016. Two canines during that search gave positive hits of human decomposition inside the barn and in a debris burn pile, according to reports.
A subsequent cadaver search managed by state police in early September 2016 proved negative for human decomposition.
Soon after the Times Leader story, state police sat down for a private meeting with Bailey and advised her the farm would be searched once again with cadaver dogs.
“We’re discouraged from the news but we’re not going to give up,” Fisher said. “It’s been more than 14 years and we hardly received any updates from the investigating troopers and when we do meet, they say they can’t disclose information and that makes it difficult to trust them.”