NewsSt. Landry Parish


State Police: Body of missing Ville Platte woman found

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Joyce Thomas search scene.jpg
Posted at 11:30 AM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 17:46:34-05

UPDATE: State Police say the body of missing Ville Platte woman Joyce Thomas has been found.

Phillip Dewoody, already under arrest in the disappearance of Thomas, has also been booked in connection with the kidnapping of an Opelousas woman.

As we told you Sunday, he was considered a person of interest in the Opelousas case. He's now been booked with second-degree kidnapping charges in that case.

Police tell KATC that it was the victim in the Opelousas case who helped them find the body of Joyce Thomas. She told detectives where Dewoody allegedly took her after he kidnapped her, police say.

Opelousas Police tell us they were called on February 22 to investigate a kidnapping and sexual assault. While following leads they developed Dewoody as a suspect, then learned about his criminal history.

On February 26, Joyce Thomas disappeared.

On February 28, the victim picked Dewoody out of a photo line-up, police say. The victim told police that Dewoody drove up to her near the intersection of Madison and Foulard streets, forced her into a vehicle, and took her out of the city, where he assaulted her. The victim is a female in her late 40s to early 50s, police say. She's recovering, police said.

Police also tell us there may be other victims out there. If you're the victim of a crime, please report it to your local law enforcement.

The family of Joyce Thomas is asking for help with expenses. Donations can be made via this GoFundMe. The money donated there will be used to support general expenses for the family such as lodging and food.

Donations are also being accepted at the following places for convenience: Teet’s Grocery, Angel Food Store, Champagne’s, and Tasty Cream Donuts all of Ville Platte. For drop off donation locations, you may contact Dafnee Chatman at (337) 831-4412.

The Thomas family appreciates your heartfelt expressions, kindness, and prayers.


State Police say they are currently searching the area along I-49 between Sunset and Opelousas for Joyce Thomas.

This is the same area that police were searching on Saturday for Thomas who was reported missing last week.

A home and vehicle in the area are blocked off as police search.

KATC's Kendria LaFleur was on the scene Monday morning.

An Opelousas man, Phillip DeWoody, has been arrested in connection with Thomas' disappearance.

The area where Monday's search is being conducted is about seven miles away from DeWoody's home.

To read more about DeWoody's criminal record: OPD: Dewoody "person of interest" in kidnapping

Thomas' family called on the public to help them find the Ville Platte grandmother who is deaf and unable to speak.

Friends and family gathered on Sunday for a prayer service at Thomas' home to pray for her safe return.

READ MORE: Prayer service held for missing Ville Platte woman