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Phyllis was last seen leaving her residence on John Street near Kelso, Washington in Cowlitz County on December 27, 1996. Her husband, Bill Lewellen, told authorities that Phyllis decided to go for a drive during the evening hours. He said that she was in good spirits at the time and wanted to "think." Phyllis was driving her light blue four-door 1981 Peugeot 505 sedan with the Washington license plate number Q680494. She was accompanied by her pet female Rottweiler; a photo of the dog is posted below this case summary. Phyllis, her vehicle and her dog have never been seen again.
Suspected serial killer Michael Brae has been investigated for his possible involvement in Phyllis's case. He is suspected in the deaths, disappearances, rapes, and/or assaults of at least eight women in Washington and Oregon, including the disappearances of Debra Vanluven and Susan Ault. Brae was ruled out as a suspect in Phyllis's case when authorities discovered he had been in police custody the night she disappeared.
Phyllis wrote a check after she left the house, on Ocean Beach Highway, but that is the last trace of her. Bill told reporters that his wife never withdrew any money from the couple's bank accounts or used their credit cards after her disappearance. He stated that he believed foul play was involved in Phyllis' case. She was a stay-at-home mother with two daughters in December 1996, and she bred quarter horses. Bill divorced her on grounds of abandonment nine months after her disappearance; he stated the divorce was necessary for financial reasons, since many of their assets were in Phyllis's name only. He has since remarried.
In 2005, a woman strongly resembling Phyllis was photographed at a motorcycle rally. Friends and relatives of Phyllis were convinced the woman was her, but she turned out to be another person. Phyllis's disappearance remains unsolved.
Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office
360-577-3092 Extension 2349