The Delaware State Police this week were still searching for 24-year-old Cullen B. Phillips of Millsboro in connection with the murder of his stepfather, 46-year-old Clifford Paynter Jr., last week.
“There hasn’t been anything new to the case. We are currently still looking for him and hope the public’s tips will lead to us locating him and subsequently bringing him to justice and arrest,” said Delaware State Police Public Information Officer Master Cpl. Gary Fournier.
Troopers responded to a residence on Doc Frame Road around 1 p.m. on Nov. 5, following a call to dispatchers from a family member in the house, stating that Cullen had shot Paynter.
“It was a domestic dispute,” said Fournier, adding that no other information regarding the altercation could be released at this time. “We won’t release any details that could hinder any prosecution measures that could be taken by our detectives when he is finally captured.”
It was reported that, following a dispute, Phillips left the house and retrieved a rifle from his vehicle and returned to the house, where he allegedly shot Paynter one time in the chest.
“In this case, we are still considering him armed and dangerous. It is unknown at this time whether or not he took the gun or is still in possession of the gun. There was a gun located at the house, but we’re still not sure if he may have had others or is still in possession of the weapon that he used.”
Along with searching for Phillips on the night of the incident, Fournier said the DSP also did a mass phone call to area residents.
“We do an extensive search through the evening to, hopefully, locate the suspect,” said Fournier. “We used, that night, the Delaware Emergency Notification System, which is like a reverse-911 call that went out to the area where we thought that he may have taken off to. It was basically a scripted message that gave his information, a basic description of him, and notified the public that we were actively searching for him.”
Fournier said he could not disclose whether or not Phillips had had previous run-ins with authorities.
He did say that the DSP was relying on tips from citizens who may have information as to Phillips’ whereabouts. Phillips was described as a black male, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, with black hair, possibly in dreadlocks, and brown eyes.
“We rely very much on public tips, anybody who knows him — any relatives, friends, girlfriends — that know of his whereabouts and will actually turn him in,” said Fournier. “Now, we’re definitely relying on the public’s help to try to locate him.”
Anyone coming in contact with Cullen Phillips should contact 911 immediately, Fournier said, as he as he is considered armed and dangerous.