Donald James Phillips, 54, has been missing from Willis, Texas in Montgomery County since April 19, 2017. He was last seen by his supervisor at work in Willis (he is listed as unemployed because he’s not working there since missing back in April). His employer was ADF.
Cheryl Cooperman, Donald’s sister shared on MTX40 Facebook page the following information about her brother, ”
“On May 19, I received a call from the detective telling me that Don’s car wa found abandoned in Sam Houston National Forest about 15 minutes away from Willis. The car was initially reported by the Forestry Service to the Forestry Police sometime between 4/20 and 4/25 who ran the license plate to see if it was in the system… he hadn’t been reported as missing at that time so it was thought that the vehicle belonged to hikers or campers. A controlled burn was scheduled to be done on 5/2 in that area and the car was still there so on 5/1 the plate was run again but, again, it was not in the system because we didn’t know for sure that he was truly missing at that point since he lives there in Texas and we do not. My mother was very worried because he had never missed wishing her happy birthday (4/30) during his whole life and he did this year. We initially reported him missing on his birthday, 5/4, because there was no doubt at that point. Prior to the controlled burn being done, Forestry Service bulldozed around the car because they still thought it perhaps belonged to campers since nothing showed up when the plate was run for the second time.
On 5/19, Forestry Service volunteers that protect a type of endangered woodpecker in the area where my brother’s car was seen called Forestry Police and asked that the vehicle be towed since they believed it was too near the woodpecker protected area and the car might scare the woodpeckers during the upcoming breeding season. Forestry Police ran the plate for a third time and immediately contacted the detective at Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department when it showed up as belonging to a missing person. An extensive search of the area was done that day by search personnel, dogs, horses, ATVs, helicopters and small planes. The State Police were the ones that sent in the small planes to help with the search. A couple of items were found in the woods nearby but it was believed that the items were taken from my brother’s car by someone and discarded because the car had been burglarized at some point while sitting abandoned in the forest. A week later, a hiker reported a few items found next to a small pond. There is another pond right in that area and a much larger pond is there, too… total of three ponds. The ponds are about a mile from where my brother’s car was found abandoned. They were my brother’s belongings that were reported by the hiker.
Another search was conducted. The court approved a search warrant for my brother’s cell phone location history and triangulation. We waited quite a while for the data to be received and then deciphered… apparently it’s not a simple process. The cell tower triangulation data provided in the results confirmed that his cell phone had last been used on 4/19 in the area where his car and belongings were found. We have now been waiting a while for a specialized dry dive search team to search the three ponds. The detective contacted me today to say it had been approved by the divemaster of the constable’s office/Department and they are working on setting up a date to start the search. It is incredibly difficult for our family waiting… most especially for my mother. There have been many other leads that have been investigated. It is heart wrenching for us.”