French Camp Woman Searches For Answers In Mother’s Death Decades Ago

FRENCH CAMP (CBS13) – A mother of four was last seen at a bar more than four decades ago. Now, one of her daughters is on a crusade to find her mother’s killer.

Melissa Carson was only 8 when her mother Phyllis was kidnapped and killed.

“There’s not a whole lot of memory except this is your mother, this is the person who gave birth to you, and her life was just taken without no regard,” Melissa said.

The little girl who was forced to face the world without her mom grew up to be a woman yearning for answers.

Once Melissa turned 18, she met with investigators and learned gruesome details of her mother’s murder.

The new knowledge fueled her desire to find the killer.

“Somebody still knows something,” Melissa said. “I believe that, I honestly do.”

Phyllis was last seen at a bar that used be called Francis’ Truck Stop.

The then 32-year-old called to check on her children and told relatives she was getting a ride home from a family friend.

She never made it home to her husband and four children.

“Three to four weeks later two pheasant hunters found her off French Camp Road and she was pretty well decomposed at the time,” Melissa said.

People at the bar and in the small French Camp community remained silent. Not a single soul came forward to investigators with any clues to lead them to the man with whom she was seen leaving the bar.

Now, more than 40 years later, Melissa is begging for closure.

“Get it off your conscience. Get it off your mind,” she said.

She lives close to the murder scene and she’s haunted by constant reminders.

“When I turned 32, I went to the same bar and I sat there and I had a Coke,” she said. “A friend said ‘What are you doing here?’ and I said ‘Today, I’m older than my mom. This was the last place she was at.'”

After failed DNA tests and with no new leads coming into the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, Melissa created a Facebook page linked to the sheriff department’s cold case’s page.

She’s reaching out to customers at the bar that night in 1970 or their children who may have overheard details about what happened to Phyllis.

“I think these people would be in their 70s now,” she said. “She’d be like 74, 75 right now.”

Phyllis’ husband passed away before investigators were able to crack the case. Melissa hopes the murder mystery will be solved in her lifetime.

“Think of the worst, hope for the best,” she said. “Well, I’ve thought about the worst all these years, so now I’m hoping for the best.”

Melissa hopes her mother’s cold case Facebook page will grow and someone out there will come forward with answers.

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