Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell
DEBBIE HOUGHTALING, LEFT, of the Town of Fremont and Wendy Chemerys of Hankins tearfully take a look at a photo of Randy and Lyn Phillips in years past during Lyns memorial service Sunday.
Difficult for All
By Ted Waddell
CALLICOON On Sunday, Sept. 1, a local church was filled to capacity and beyond as the community turned out to remember Marilyn Joan Lyn Phillips (June 10, 1948 - August 25, 2002) who died under what authorities are investigating as suspicious circumstances.
The memorial service was held at Holy Cross Church in Callicoon. Father Ignatius Smith, O.F.M., officiated during the moving, often tear-filled ceremony.
Moments before the service began, Marilyns husband Randy was ushered into the church, assisted by close friends and family. During the memorial, he sat quietly in a front-row pew.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Lyn Phillips, said Father Ignatius before asking the assemblage to join him in singing Amazing Grace.
Today is a sad day, added the local Franciscan. All her friends and relatives are here to say goodbye. . . . We are returning her to a God who loves her with full confidence He remembers all the good she did. You all have your memories of her.
One of those with such memories is Tess McBeath, who was born in Callicoon and knew Marilyn Phillips for years.
She recalled her friend from the pulpit: Lyn was was of my nearest and dearest. I can count these 30-year friends on one hand, and now theres one less.
Lyn always had an adventurous soul, she added. An eternal optimist, she always found a bright side to everything. She was full of ideas for fun things to do and places to go. A ready smile, a helping hand, a good friend Ill miss her. We all will.
According to Steve Luty, who described himself after the service as a recovering alcoholic who drinks ODouls, hes known John R. Randy Phillips, 53, since about 1987 and been close to Lyn for four or five years.
The week before she died, Lyn was telling me about how she liked to get out there in the waves [off the North Carolina coast] . . . she had a love of life in general, he said. She was always helping, always smiling.
During the memorial service, Luty was overcome by emotion as he read from the Bible.
To everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep, he said.
Lord God, I know your sister Lyn is at Your right hand, added Luty.
Addressing his friend Randy, he said, God bless you, brother.
Following the ceremony, the assemblage gathered at the Delaware Youth Center for fellowship, to recall Marilyn Phillips and offer support to her bereaved husband and relatives.
Pictures of Lyn Phillips served as reminders of the joys of her life. Flowers from the memorial service reminded everyone of her tragic passing.
Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell
A PORTRAIT OF Lyn Phillips of Abrahamsville, Pa. sits amidst flowers provided in her memory at the 54-year-olds memorial service at Holy Cross Church in Callicoon on Sunday.
By Ted Waddell
ABRAHAMSVILLE, PA September 6, 2002 Although a Pennsylvania paper and several radio stations are indicating Callicoon Saloon co-owner Marilyn Lyn Phillips death was a murder, the Wayne County District Attorneys Office is advising caution in jumping to conclusions.
I treat every suspicious death as a homicide until I can prove otherwise, Wayne County DA Wayne Zimmer said in a brief telephone interview early yesterday morning.
Zimmer was reached at his private legal practice in Honesdale, Pa.
According to Zimmer, authorities are still awaiting forensic tests (including toxicology and tissue samples) before naming a suspect(s) and/or filing criminal charges.
Responding to reports that excerpts of court affidavits of probable cause were printed in the Scranton Times, Zimmer replied, I heard it on the radio this morning when the alarm went off [that] the police were treating Damascus womans death as a homicide, and I went, Whoa, theres been a murder here, and nobody called me. . . . Then they said it was Mrs. Phillips.
There has been no ruling it was a homicide, he said, stressing the investigation is continuing.
After the body of Phillips was discovered in Cooley Creek on Sunday afternoon, August 25, authorities questioned her husband, John (known locally as Randy), for 12 hours before releasing him.
At press time, no charges have been filed against anyone.
According to the affidavit, Randy Phillips called 911 at 12:43 p.m. on August 25, reportedly telling an emergency dispatcher he had lost her last night and had searched the area surrounding the brook before finding her dead.
In what authorities labeled as inconsistencies, Phillips reportedly offered two versions of what happened late Sunday night on the way back to their residence after dropping off an employee in Hankins: first, upon arriving home, he discovered that his wife was no longer in the vehicle, and second, she must have gotten out of the car to go to the bathroom and slipped on a rock.
Phillips was reported as telling police he saw the body of his wife in the water as he drove over a bridge crossing Cooley Creek in Manchester Township, Pa. (about four miles from Callicoon), but authorities are discounting this statement as highly unlikely after trying to recreate the scenario from patrol cars.
Phillips also reportedly told police he tried to pull his wifes head out of the water.
The victims head was not wet, Pa. State Trooper Wayne Thomas, Jr. reportedly stated in the affidavit of probable cause. Actually, the victim was only wet from the middle of her thighs to her feet.
Dr. Edward Murray, Wayne County Coroner, said forensic pathologist Dr. Gary Ross conducted an autopsy on the body of the deceased at Wayne Memorial Hospital on August 26.
Although the final results of the post mortem examination are not yet available, the cause of Marilyn Phillips death has been determined to be blunt force trauma to the head, but the precise manner of death remains undetermined at this time.
In the affidavits, authorities say Marilyn Phillips face sustained what appeared to be a concave wound from a blunt object, along with major injuries to her forehead and the region surrounding one eye.
Based upon sufficient probable cause established in the supporting affidavits, authorities exercised search warrants at the Phillipses residence and place of business.
Police seized as evidence a three-pound sledgehammer from the back of a 1999 Chevrolet S-10 pickup at the Phillipses home and other items, including the clothes Randy Phillips was wearing.
Anyone with information pertaining to the death of Marilyn Lyn Phillips is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police at 570-253-7126.