Volunteer IDs sister's body after 23 years

March 17, 2010 9:13:10 PM PDT
A Texas Equusearch volunteer finally has closure 23 years after his sister disappeared. Since then, her family has wondered if they would ever see her again. The struggle to find answers even led one family member to help others.

What happened in the brushy area of Cullen blvd. and Holmes Road 23 years ago sent one man on a mission. In September of 1986, Angela Phillips, then 21, never returned home.

"She came home to change clothes and said goodbye. That was the last time I saw her. Her back was to me, walking," said James Phillips, brother of Angela.

That was the last time her two brothers ever saw her. The traumatic experience even pushed Darryl Phillips to join Equusearch.

"So I felt like if I go out and help someone else, then maybe it will help my family. We will get some kind of closure. And it was always in the back of my mind, that while we are out searching, we might stumble across my sister's remains," said Darryl Phillips, brother of Angela.

"He joined in 2000, when one of his co-workers disappeared and after we did that search, that's when he told me about his sister," said Tim Miller, founder of Equusearch.

But four years ago, with the help of the missing person and homicide department, Equusearch began working the case. Finally, the medical examiner's office found pictures of unidentified bodies from out the same time Angela disappeared.

"When we actually looked at her picture in there from 1986, Darryl said those are her boots, those are her clothes and that's when they started doing the testing," said Miller.

On Monday of this week, dental records confirmed it was their sister, Angela Phillips. Listed as a Jane Doe all this time, Angela was actually discovered three days after she went missing, and her death ruled a homicide.

Now her brother who became an Equusearch volunteer says their family is proof that you can never lose hope.

"For any family members who have somebody missing, don't give up hope no matter how long it takes. Because you look it now, 23 years and three months later, we are here at this moment, knowing that our sister is recovered," said Darryl.

Buried as a Jane Doe in the county cemetery, her body will be exhumed and Angela will now be given a proper burial alongside their mother and grandmother. The family will focus on justice and a person of interest in this case.


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