Editor’s Comments: Phylicia Thomas will not be forgotten

Family friend Judy Lorah Fisher, second from left, follows members of Rescue International during a K9 search for the remains of Phylicia Thomas in a field along Timber Lane in Hunlock Creek last June. Times Leader file photo Family friend Judy Lorah Fisher, second from left, follows members of Rescue International during a K9 search for the remains of Phylicia Thomas in a field along Timber Lane in Hunlock Creek last June. - Times Leader file photo

Monday marked the 15th anniversary of Phylicia Thomas’ disappearance and reporter Bill O’Boyle covered the annual vigil on Nanticoke’s Patriot Square, as he has done for many years.

On the face of it, the story read a lot like it almost always has been: Despite no new leads, family and friends have undaunted determination to find her.

Bill’s story isn’t about the investigation, because there is nothing new to say about that. Maybe there never will be.

It’s about devotion, suffering and hoping against hope.

“We love each other,” Phylicia’s cousin, Yvonne Tagnani, told O’Boyle.

“But this is like a funeral every year,” Tagnani added. “We have to find Phylicia.”

Those words broke my heart when I read O’Boyle’s story.

Just as it broke my heart last year every time we ran a story about how Phylicia’s mother, Pauline Bailey, and family friend Judy Lorah Fisher accompanied volunteers with cadaver dogs to the field around a former trailer home where the 22-year-old was last seen during a 2004 house party.

The dogs smelled something, but excavations turned up no remains.

Each time, no doubt, Bailey and Fisher went home devastated.

Each time, O’Boyle came back to the newsroom crestfallen.

Fisher says they’ll resume the searches in the spring. I hope and pray the new year brings some discovery, some solace for those who mourn Phylicia.

Whatever happens, their efforts — and ours — will not be in vain. They remind the community that Phylicia Thomas was loved and will not be forgotten.

Family friend Judy Lorah Fisher, second from left, follows members of Rescue International during a K9 search for the remains of Phylicia Thomas in a field along Timber Lane in Hunlock Creek last June.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/web1_TTL062218PhyliciaThomasSearch_4.jpgFamily friend Judy Lorah Fisher, second from left, follows members of Rescue International during a K9 search for the remains of Phylicia Thomas in a field along Timber Lane in Hunlock Creek last June. Times Leader file photo