Patient persistence

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, January 13, 2009

WOODLAND – As long as the good Lord allows him to draw a breath, William “Buddy” Powell will not give-up.

Despite the passage of 46 years, Powell still clings to the hope of finding out what happened to his little sister. That sister, Phyllis L. Powell of Woodland, suddenly disappeared on Jan. 11, 1963.

Last month, while watching the TV news, Powell learned that the John Walsh family found out who abducted and killed their six-year-old son. Walsh is the host of the TV show America’s Most Wanted. He became involved in anti-crime activism following the murder of his son, Adam, in 1981.

“I was very happy for the Walsh family; despite still living with the pain of losing a child at such an early age, they found some relief in knowing who killed their little boy,” Powell said.

“As I began to tear-up (over the Walsh story), God spoke to me through John Walsh,” Powell continued. “His message was, ‘William Buddy Powell, don’t ever give up hope on finding out what happened to your little sister, Phyllis; my word will not return void’.”

Quoting Matthew 10:26, Powell pointed to God’s words… “Fear them not therefore; for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.”

“God spoke those words and it shall come to past,” Powell stressed.

For Powell and other members of his family, they still live through the agony and pain of Jan. 11, 1963 when the news was revealed that Phyllis was missing. She disappeared at around 12 noon that day while playing in an area of NC 35 and Ashe Street in Woodland. Despite a massive search, there were no clues discovered on the little girl’s whereabouts.

“Some may say why don’t you just forget it,” Powell noted. “I will say to them, she wasn’t your baby, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, etc. I will never stop looking. I will wait on God’s promise.”

Recently, there was a ray of hope for the Powell family. DNA tests performed on Powell and his brother, Joseph Powell, came on the heels of a cold case involving human bones found years ago in the northwestern part of Northampton County. However, those tests did not reveal a DNA match.

“It got our hopes up, but when the DNA didn’t match it put us right back at square one,” Powell said.

Meanwhile, a Winston-Salem woman, Betty Brown, has shown much interest in the Powell case. As a member of a family with a missing relative of their own, Brown played a pivotal role in getting the DNA tests performed. She is also leading an effort to have a retired FBI sketch artist perform an “age progressed” drawing of Phyllis Powell.

“Mrs. Brown has also contacted us about using some sort of advanced technology to perform another ground search of the area around where Phyllis went missing,” Powell said.

In the meantime, Powell said his family was willing to forgive the person responsible for his sister’s disappearance.

“To whoever is responsible for taking my sister, I say to you that my family loves you and what’s more important, God loves you too,” Powell said. “We only want the pain and the heartache to go away.”

Powell closed by saying, “To all who read this, put yourself in our shoes; wouldn’t you want to know what happened to your child? We ask all to pray for our family and to please pray for whoever is responsible for taking Phyllis away from a family that truly loved her.”