Details of Disappearance
Phylis 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 she 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."
Phylis was driving a light blue four-door 1981 Peugeot 505 sedan with the Washington license plate number Q680494. It belonged to Bill; she usually drove her own vehicle, a Chevrolet pickup truck. She was accompanied by her pet female Rottweiler; a photo of the dog is posted with this case summary. Phyllis, her vehicle and her dog have never been seen again. She left her other dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, behind; a friend stated Phylis didn't like the Rottweiler but usually took her Jack Russell everywhere she went.
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 Phylis's case when authorities discovered he had been in police custody the night she disappeared.
Phylis 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 Phylis's case.
She was a stay-at-home mother with two children 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 Phylis's name only. He has since remarried.
In 2005, a woman strongly resembling Phylis was photographed at a motorcycle rally. Friends and relatives were convinced the woman was her, but she turned out to be another person. Phylis's disappearance remains unsolved.