The Disappearance of Phyllis Lorain Powell in 1963

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On January 11, 1963, Phyllis Lorain Powell, 5, stopped by Lewis and Bernice Vinson’s home at 310 Ashe Street in Woodland, North Carolina, at around 11:00 a.m. to watch television.

Approximately 30 minutes later, a neighbor saw her skipping down Ashe Street toward Route 35/Linden Street.

By noon, Phyllis had disappeared without a trace. Despite an extensive search, she was never found. The only clue found were several little footprints along a ditch near where Phyllis was last seen. According to the newspaper below, a pair of Phyllis’ shoes fit the tracks perfectly. Was Phyllis abducted here?

Around the 60th anniversary of Phyllis’s disappearance, her brother William “Buddy” Powell gave a slightly different version of the events of that day. 

He told the Rowan-Chowan News-Herald in January 2023 that on the day Phyllis disappeared, his sister Joyce was washing clothes around noon at a neighbor’s home, Molly Lassiter. Phyllis was with Joyce and asked her if she could play outside. (Bryant 2023)

It’s worth noting that a family member of Phyllis’s contacted me in 2017 after seeing this article and never told me the information I had needed to be corrected. I am confused by the differences.

Buddy said Ashe Street saw limited traffic in 1963, mainly because only two men had vehicles. The rest who resided on Ashe Street were “either related or close friends.” (Bryant)

We may never know what happened. So much time has passed, and whoever abducted Phyllis Lorain Powell is probably dead.

All we can do is hope she is found so her surviving family members have peace and closure.

A sister of Phyllis Lorain Powell contacted me in December 2017 and sent me a poster of a new sign put up where Phyllis was last seen. A forensic artist drew both photos below in 2013. The one on the left is what Phyllis looked like at age 5; the one on the right is what she may look like today. Phyllis’s family will never give up on their search for her.

Phyllis Lorain Powell reward poster


Bryant, Cal. “Passage of Time Does Not Heal Heavy Hearts.” The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. January 10, 2023. Accessed on January 10, 2024.

Good, Meaghan. “Phyllis Lorain Powell.” The Charley Project. Accessed November 10, 2014.

Source: The Charley Project.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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