SWEET VALLEY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Luzerne County family says it will never stop seeking answers and justice for their loved one who vanished without a trace 17 years ago this week.
State police say the Phylicia Thomas case is not cold, rather it is very active. In fact, they confirmed with the I-Team they were looking at a possible suspect. We’ll take a look at how this investigation took many twists and turns over the past 17 years.
Mehalshick: “You have any idea who’s responsible for this obviously?
Pauline Bailey, mother of Phylicia Thomas: “Yes I do.”
Bailey says she has been trying to find evidence or witnesses that can help lead to an arrest in the disappearance of her daughter Phylicia Thomas.
She says her daughter went missing after attending a party near her Sweet Valley home on the night of February 11th of 2004. Thomas vanished three years after her close friend, 18-year-old Jennifer Barziloski, from Lake Township, also disappeared.
Bailey tells the I-Team that her daughter believed Barziloski was also the victim of foul play.
“She said I know that she was murdered and that they put her in the basement. Or so she thought and I just didn’t believe it. It sounded too crazy. I was like Phylicia you just can’t go murdering people and burying them in your backyard. She says mom it happened and I’m going to prove it,” Bailey said.
Bailey believes her daughter was killed because she knew too much abut the Barziloski disappearance and who might be responsible. Thomas has never been found.
Barziloski’s skull was found in a wooded area of Hunlock Township in April of 2010. At the time, state troopers would only say they were looking into a possible connection between the two cases.
Bailey admits she does not have a good relationship with law enforcement.
“They don’t tell us anything. They told me they won’t tell me anything. It’s an investigation and they can’t tell me anything which doesn’t make sense to me. I’m her mother, if you can’t tell me then I still have to go out there and search myself and I will and I’ll find her,” Bailey said.
Judy Lorah Fisher, a close friend of the family, has been helping search for Phylicia.
“I don’t think we’re never going to get the whole truth about what happened. Do I believe we’re going to find her? I do!” Fisher said.
For this family it’s all about justice and closure.
“She deserves a burial. She deserves what everybody else has. Everybody goes to a grave and puts flowers on their family member’s grave and this family does not have that. That’s not fair to anybody,” Fisher said.
State police confirm with the I-Team that they were looking at a man from the Sweet Valley area as a possible suspect in the Thomas disappearance. The man was never charged.
Troopers also tell the I-Team that while the case may appear to be cold, they insist that they have been and continue to work leads in the case.
The Thomas family mentioned they believe that several men were involved in the disappearance of Thomas and Barziloski.
Troopers have not commented on the family’s suspicions but sources close to the case that have been connected to the case for nearly all of the 17 years tell us they do believe that there was a ring leader who did have help from other people in at least the disposing of the body of Thomas and possibly Barziloski.
Anyone with information about the Phylicia Thomas disappearance should call state police.