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Thread: Eric L. Franks (38) went missing from Saginaw, MI 3/21/2011; his car was sold at a dealership in 2020

  1. #1
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    Eric L. Franks (38) went missing from Saginaw, MI 3/21/2011; his car was sold at a dealership in 2020

    More than nine years after a Saginaw County man and his car vanished, the car has turned up in northern Michigan.

    Michigan State Police Sgt. Joseph Rowley confirmed that police on Tuesday, Sept. 8, took possession of a bronze 2001 Chevrolet Malibu that was in the possession of Eric L. Franks. Both Franks and the Malibu were last seen on March 21, 2011.

    ?The vehicle was recently recovered from a car lot,? Rowley said. ?It had been purchased in an estate sale and then sold. We do know which car dealership it was recovered from, but we don?t want to release that right now. We want to make sure we have our ducks in a row.?

    Chad D. Baus, Franks' brother-in-law of Archbold, Ohio, told MLive the Malibu was located in a curious way thanks to an amateur internet sleuth.

    ?It was the most extraordinary thing,? Baus said. ?It was a person from California, a student who was getting distracted from her schoolwork watching a YouTube video of Eric?s case. She ran a Carfax report on his car, which had been missing all this time. I?m a car dealer by trade myself and I had never thought to run a Carfax report. I was 100 percent convinced, as the police were, that the car had been destroyed, hidden, was at the bottom of a lake, who knows.?

    The timeliness of the student?s search was also eerily fortuitous.

    The Carfax reports showed the car had a title issued in Saginaw County on Aug. 21, followed by an oil change in Clare on Aug. 31, Baus said.

    ?Had she run it two weeks ago, nothing would have shown up,? Baus said. ?These are all fresh records.?

    Baus himself years ago had sold the car to Franks' mother, Jo Ann Franks, who then let her son use it, he said. As such, Franks himself could not buy license plates or get the title for the car, Baus said.

    Over the Labor Day weekend, Baus and wife Beth Haus were in St. Ignace and decided to stop in Clare on their way home to Ohio.

    ?I was still telling myself, ?It?s probably an error; it?s probably a typo,?? Baus said of the Carfax information. The Bauses visited the business where the Malibu had had its oil changed and were connected by staff there with the man who owned it. They then visited the car?s current owner, also in Clare.

    ?The guy works at a dealership but had bought the vehicle for himself from a person who had bought it at the estate sale,? Baus said. ?The estate sale was in Saginaw; it had been there this whole time.?

    The Malibu?s new owner showed the car to the Bauses.

    ?I can?t describe the emotions of walking around the corner and seeing that car,? Baus said. ?It was amazing. There it was. It was amazing to see the car and to see the condition it was in. It?s a shiny, 19-year-old car. It doesn?t look any different than when it left here.?

    After confirming it was indeed the same car, Baus called the Michigan State Police detective handling the case, who came directly to the site in Clare. Police loaded the Malibu on a flatbed truck and took it from the scene, Baus said.

    The Malibu is now at the Michigan State Police Crime Lab.

    ?It?s going to be processed,? Sgt. Rowley said. ?Hopefully, that will unveil some sort of investigation lead for us.?

    Rowley added that investigators are treating Franks' disappearance as a cold case. They will be working backwards on the case, going over and sifting through old reports to ideally generate new leads.

  2. #2
    Scoopski Potatoes Nic B's Avatar
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    Whoa, that is crazy!

    Quote Originally Posted by marakisses View Post
    yes i said i will leave it under you storage he said cuddle with me i said shut up it over??? what am i doing wrong??
    Quote Originally Posted by curiouscat View Post
    Happy Birthday! I hid a dead body in your backyard to celebrate. Good luck finding it under the cement. You can only use a stick to look for it.

  3. #3
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    I remember watching this case on ID and it really looks like the ex gf that had his daughter and her husband murdered him. I'm shocked the car was found and so pristine. I hope they find him to give his mother some peace.

  4. #4
    Moderator raisedbywolves's Avatar
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    One mystery solved, one to go.

    Now that a missing man’s car has been found more than nine years after the man and car vanished, the question remains: what happened to Eric Franks?

    There is a clue.

    The mother of Franks' child was a caretaker of a man at the home where Franks' car was apparently hidden. The man who lived there was quite wealthy.

    Franks was 38 years old when he was last seen in Mid-Michigan. He had moved to Saginaw County in 2010 to be closer to a former girlfriend, Kendra Firmingham, who had told Franks he was the father of Firmingham’s child.

    It’s believed he left Miller’s Motel in Bridgeport in late March 2011. Firmingham gave conflicting statements to police about the last time she saw Franks, but did tell them at one time she saw Franks drive away from the motel, possibly heading to California.

    The discovery of his car now makes that scenario seem unlikely. So where was Franks' car all this time?

    Saginaw County Probate Court records show Gerald Rutledge was an incapacitated adult due to a medical condition, but the former General Motors worker saved a lot of money -- approximately $2.9 million. He lived in a west side Saginaw home until he died in April at the age of 84.

    His house was put up for sale and in one of the realtor photos, you see a two-car garage. The darker colored car was Franks'. The car was sold to a man in Clare this summer and is now at a Michigan State Police Crime Lab, as it’s now a key piece of evidence in a murder investigation.

    Court records show Firmingham, the woman who had a child with Franks, was a caretaker for Rutledge. But in March 2011, just a few weeks before Franks was last seen, Guardianship Services of Saginaw documents indicate there were suspicions of how Rutledge’s money was being spent.

    In one entry, on March 2, 2011, three weeks before Franks was last seen, a guardianship employee writes “spoke with Kendra how she is paid. Mr. Rutledge paid the home-care service that she owns one year in advance on on advice of his banker.”

    Rutledge’s banker at that time could not be reached for comment, but an elder law attorney said that is not a customary practice in a guardianship to pay for services in advance.

    The documents later indicate Rutledge’s bank accounts were frozen for a time. In another document, Rutledge told an attorney in 2012 that he goes roller skating every Sunday.

    Franks told friends before his disappearance that he often went roller skating with Kendra and a man named Gerry. Firmingham died in 2016. And now Franks’s missing car has been found, presumably hidden in Gerald Rutledge’s garage until this summer.

    A former neighbor of Rutledge’s, who did not want to be identified, is shocked the missing car was so close to her home for several years.

    “Unbelievable, I’m not even sure Gerald would have known about it and I’m not sure if he did, that he would have liked it, because he was exceptionally particular about certain things, certain ways.” she said.

    She also talked to Kendra about her care of Gerald Rutledge.

    “You worry about older people being taken advantage of, and I don’t know how she became connected with Gerald, so when I saw her over there, I got a little curious,” she says.

    The Michigan State Police is hoping the discovery of Franks' car will lead to more tips in this investigation to find out what happened to Eric Franks.

  5. #5
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    Nearly a year after car is found, new details in the Eric Franks case released

    New details in the investigation of a baffling missing persons case in mid-Michigan as the search for Eric Franks continues.

    It was nearly a year ago when a big part of that mystery was discovered.

    Franks’ car was found, which vanished with him ten years ago.

    Through the Freedom of Information Act, his family received a lot of documents and pictures associated with the Michigan State Police investigation, which included new information on what was found in Eric’s car.

    “Knowing that, all these years, that car was sitting right in that garage, that always brings emotion to me,” says Franks’ brother-in-law Chad Baus.

    It was last September when Eric Franks’ car was found in Clare, after it was sold in an estate sale following the death of an incapacitated adult who lived in a west side Saginaw home.

    The car apparently had been hidden in the garage at the home for several years after Franks disappeared in March of 2011. The Michigan State Police conducted a forensic search of the car, and did find a small amount of blood on the driver’s seat.

    Testing indicated it was most likely Eric’s blood, which disappointed his brother-in-law.

    “Once I found out that the blood was there, kind of became my hope that it wasn’t Eric’s blood because if it had been someone else’s blood, again, that would have been a big clue that could have been tracked down,” says Baus.

    A picture shows police in the garage where Franks’ car was apparently parked for several years.

    They broke open concrete which appeared to have been paved over. No human remains were found.

    Detectives questioned people who live in the Saginaw neighborhood and one person told them they remember seeing Franks at the home several years ago.

    The person also told police they saw a woman there, believed to be Kendra Firmingham, the mother of Franks’ child and the caretaker of the man who lived at the home. Firmingham and her husband moved to Florida shortly after Franks disappeared.

    “She was returning repeatedly to that location over the years, even after she moved out of state,” says Baus.

    Firmingham died in 2016. Baus says the police report still gives him hope more can be done to find out how what happened to Franks, but he is concerned police just don’t have enough resources to investigate cold cases.

    “Our law enforcement are overworked and there is not enough of them to go around and do all the things that need to be done,” says Baus.

    The state police is still investigating this case and has always asked anyone with information to give them a call.

  6. #6
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    What happened to the child that they have together?

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