Still Looking for Answers in Missing Woman Case

NANTICOKE, Pa. -- It is a solemn anniversary for a family from Luzerne County.

Every year, they hold a vigil for their daughter Phylicia Thomas who's been missing since 2004.

This year, on the 15th anniversary of her disappearance, they have renewed hope for a break in the case.

This year, K-9 crews joined family and friends in Nanticoke. Those crews think they may now have a lead.

Phylicia Thomas went missing 15 years ago after a party in Hunlock Township. No one has been arrested in connection with her disappearance, but witnesses told her mother she was murdered.

"They all heard her screaming. She told them, 'You know my family is never going to let you get away with this,' and she's right. We're not going to let them get away with that," said Pauline Bailey, Phylicia's mom.

Phylicia's family and friends believe several people killed her and buried her body somewhere near the scene of the party.

Her family holds a vigil every year on the anniversary of the day she went missing. This year, they feel they're closer than ever to finding her.

Members of a K-9 crew from the Pennsylvania Special Response Team were at Monday night's vigil. Over the past eight months, they've been out looking for Phylicia with some hopeful results.

"We have a lot of areas where the dogs have given us a lot of interest, strong interest, and you're talking about dogs that do this all the time," said Bruce Barton, Pennsylvania Special Response Team.

"The dogs have been up there a couple of times. They hit. He said he knows there's something out there, and he's not going to give up," Bailey said.

Police at one point identified a man as a person of interest in Phylicia's disappearance, but that man took his own life before ever being charged. Whatever secret he may have had, he took to the grave.

For Phylicia's family and friends, all that remains now is her memory.

"We're always going to look for her. We're not going to stop. These people coming out and helping is just wonderful because they're volunteering their time," said Yvonne Tagnani, Phylicia's cousin.

"Anybody who met Phylicia loved Phylicia. She did everything she can. She loved them, and now they want to help her in bringing closure to all of us because she deserves it," said Bailey.

The special response team plan doesn't have a definite date just yet, but the team plans to go back to that spot in Hunlock Township in the coming weeks. The K-9 crew needs clear weather to continue the search.

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