Real Name: Phillip 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 his father's private papers. Inside, he discovered a birth certificate for a "Phillip John Thomas" apparently a long-lost brother. This shocked Walter, as he could not understand why his father would hide a brother from him. Walter thought back to his childhood in the 1940s, when he and his family lived in Westerly, Rhode Island. His father 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 and his father spent hours looking for her. Walter often asked his father when his mother would get better, but he did not know. On some occasions, Adele's condition was so bad, that Walter Sr. had to admit her to a mental hospital; the children were not allowed inside. With Adele at the hospital and Walter Sr. working long hours at the mill, Grandma often was in charge of watching the children. 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 Grandma made them leave.
In May 1947, Adele recovered and she was able to spend time with her husband and children. However, he condition again worsened and she was again sent back to the hospital. This time, Adele was pregnant with the couple's fifth child, Phillip. He was born in April 1948; given the circumstances, Walter Sr. felt that he had no choice but to give the child up for adoption.
When Walter Jr. began searching for his brother, 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, called him and told him that she had known Phillip as a child. Three days later, Walter and Phyllis met and she told him about his brother.
As a child, Phyllis had grown up in a foster home under the care of a woman named Mary "Thankful" Teft. One of Phyllis's foster brothers was Phillip. The two spent several happy childhood years together; however, in July 1953, the two were separated when Phillip was adopted. Phyllis still had one memento of Phillip, a photograph (above) taken when he was three years old.
Walter and Phyllis are now both searching for Phillip Thomas.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the January 6, 1995 episode.
Results: Solved. In July 1996, a private investigator at the "Birth Right Adoption Search Agency" contacted Walter Thomas with information about Phillip. Phillip's adopted name was Dennis Talarian; sadly, Dennis passed away in September 1989 at the age of forty-one. He had been living in Central Falls, Rhode Island.