Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Phillip Thomas at age 3

Real Name: Phillip John Thomas
Case: Lost Brother
Location: Westerly, Rhode Island
Date: April 1948


Details: A few days after his father Walter Sr.'s death in 1993, Walter Thomas, Jr. opened a box of Walter Sr.'s private papers. Inside, he discovered a birth certificate for someone named "Phillip John Thomas", apparently a long-lost brother. This shocked him, as he could not understand why Walter Sr. would hide a brother from him. Walter Jr. thought back to his childhood in the 1940s, when he and his family lived in Westerly, Rhode Island. Walter Sr. worked in a textile mill, while his mother, Adele, looked after him, his younger sister, and younger twin brothers. Their grandmother often spent time with the family.

Unfortunately, Adele developed an illness; she suffered random mental lapses and often wandered away from home. On many occasions, Walter Jr. and Sr. spent hours looking for her. Walter Jr. often asked Walter Sr. when Adele would get better, but he did not know. On some occasions, her condition was so bad that Walter Sr. had to admit her to a mental hospital that the children were not allowed inside of. With her there and Walter Sr. working long hours at the mill, their grandmother was often in charge of watching them. Someone apparently did not like this arrangement as the Department of Social Services was eventually called to the Thomas home. Walter Jr. and his siblings were almost taken away, but their grandmother made them leave.
In May 1947, Adele recovered and she was able to spend time with her family. However, her condition again worsened and she was sent back to the hospital. This time, she was pregnant with their fifth child, Phillip. He was born in April 1948; given the circumstances, Walter Sr. felt that he had no choice but to give him up for adoption.
When Walter Jr. began searching for Phillip, he discovered that all official records had been sealed. His story was picked up by a local newspaper and then a television station. The broadcast led to an unexpected discovery; a woman named Phyllis Monroe, who lived thirty-five miles away from Walter Jr., called him and told him that she had known Phillip as a child. Three days later, they met and she told him about Phillip.
As a child, Phyllis had grown up in a foster home under the care of a woman named Mary "Thankful" Teft. One of her foster brothers was Phillip. They spent several happy childhood years together, however, in July 1953, they were separated when he was adopted. She still had one memento of him, a photograph (above) of him when he was three years old.
Walter and Phyllis are now both searching for Phillip.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 6, 1995 episode.
Results: Solved. In July 1996, a private investigator at the "Birth Right Adoption Search Agency" contacted Walter Jr. with information about Phillip. His adopted name was Dennis Talarian. Sadly, he passed away in September 1989 at the age of forty-one. He had been living in Central Falls, Rhode Island.
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