At some point in the night, Phillips walked away from the facility. Steward believes he was trying to walk back to his wife at the casino. CARES employees have no obligation to keep people at the facility but are required to notify police if an intoxicated person wanders off.
Staff at the facility told Steward that Phillips set off an alarm when he walked away, but police were tied up in other matters and couldn't check on him, she said. Phillips ended up walking southeast toward the Interstate 64 on ramp before walking onto the interstate.
Joggers found him dead underneath the interstate later that morning. Steward has been unable to pinpoint which officers responded to the alleged disturbance at the casino that night.
No report was made of the alleged incident. Casino security called a 911 nonemergency number, so no call-log record existed, she said.
Charleston police, who investigated Phillips' death, assumed he had fallen while hitchhiking along the interstate. Steward wants answers as to why her son was not allowed to return to the hotel with his wife that night, she said.
"[The police] saw he was a military man," Steward said. "He still had his dog tags on when they found him." Her son is remembered for his joyous personality, the way he loved to play pranks on people and make them laugh, she said.
Reach Travis Crum attravis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.