MI ERIC FRANKS: Missing from Saginaw, MI - 21 March 2011 - Age 38

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We had a thread for Eric before we lost our site info. There is a new development! First, I will give some background:

there's a lot of info at this FB page (remove the spaces) : https:// www.facebook.com/ FindEricFranks/posts/new-development-in-2011-missing-persons-case-by-terry-camp-posted-wed-425-pm-sep/677538002403012/





3/21/2018) - Eric Franks vanished from the Saginaw area 7 years ago along with his car, but investigators are still missing key pieces of information to break open the case.

Franks was 38 years old when he disappeared in 2011. His car vanished too.

"Most likely it's gone," said Michigan State Police investigator Hilary House. "It was scrapped, it was cut into pieces."

Franks' disappearance is being investigated as a murder. Three law enforcement agencies in the Saginaw area and another agency from Florida are actively working the case.

"All of our contacts are down there, our resources," House said. "Anyone that knew the last whereabouts of Eric, they are in Florida."

Kendra Firmingham died in Florida in 2016. She had a child with Franks. Firmingham's husband, who has been questioned in Florida, has given investigators names of two men who knew Firmingham.

"After she passed away we have learned of those names of people he was familiar with that she used to stay in contact with," House said.

She is attempting to track down those two men. She believes both live in Michigan

Additionally, House believes a vehicle that drove away from Miller's Motel in Bridgeport with Franks' belongings was a specific color and authorities believed Firmingham was driving that vehicle.

"There is a possibility that a red car may be involved at this point too that we were unaware of before," House said.

She has some additional help with the investigation. Samiejo Taylor is an intern with the Michigan State Police who is reviewing recorded interviews and three binders of information

"She's a fresh new eyes," House said. "She loves it, she's into it."


There are theories and even strong possibilities as to what happened to Franks, but seven years later police are still looking for that one person to step forward who knows what happened to Franks.

"I'm determined, but its a tough one," House said. "There is no body and there is no vehicle and everyone has moved."

 

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Skitt

Well-known member
Eric's car ha been found, 9 years after he disappeared. He disappeared from the Saginaw (actually Bridgeport) area and the car was found in Clare, MI. That's about an hour away.



A shocking development in the case of a Saginaw-area man missing for nine years.

Investigators now have a major piece of evidence that could help solve the mystery of the Eric Franks' disappearance.

Not only has Franks been missing since March 2011, his car had never been found -- until now.

“We don’t have a body and we didn’t have a car. Those were the two big things we were always told, you need one or another,” said Chad Baus, who is Franks' brother-in-law.

Baus was vacationing on Mackinac Island when his mother-in-law and Eric’s mom, Jo Ann Franks, called him saying she got a tip from a person in California that Eric’s car -- the same one that has been missing since 2011 -- got an oil change in Clare on Aug. 31. The person in California had done a Carfax check on the vehicle identification number.

“That never occurred for me to do because I convinced myself a long time ago that the car had been destroyed a long time ago,” Baus said.

Previous searches by law enforcement of the vehicle identification number with car dealers, salvage yards and other automotive location services showed the car apparently vanished. Baus, a car dealer himself, and his family stopped in Clare on their way back home to Ohio and found the man who eventually bought the car.

“You still have this car, and he said yes, it’s right in the other room here. We get up, walk around the corner through a doorway and there sat his car, and it was pretty powerful, pretty powerful,” Baus said.

...continued at link
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
Eric's car ha been found, 9 years after he disappeared. He disappeared from the Saginaw (actually Bridgeport) area and the car was found in Clare, MI. That's about an hour away.



A shocking development in the case of a Saginaw-area man missing for nine years.

Investigators now have a major piece of evidence that could help solve the mystery of the Eric Franks' disappearance.

Not only has Franks been missing since March 2011, his car had never been found -- until now.

“We don’t have a body and we didn’t have a car. Those were the two big things we were always told, you need one or another,” said Chad Baus, who is Franks' brother-in-law.

Baus was vacationing on Mackinac Island when his mother-in-law and Eric’s mom, Jo Ann Franks, called him saying she got a tip from a person in California that Eric’s car -- the same one that has been missing since 2011 -- got an oil change in Clare on Aug. 31. The person in California had done a Carfax check on the vehicle identification number.

“That never occurred for me to do because I convinced myself a long time ago that the car had been destroyed a long time ago,” Baus said.

Previous searches by law enforcement of the vehicle identification number with car dealers, salvage yards and other automotive location services showed the car apparently vanished. Baus, a car dealer himself, and his family stopped in Clare on their way back home to Ohio and found the man who eventually bought the car.

“You still have this car, and he said yes, it’s right in the other room here. We get up, walk around the corner through a doorway and there sat his car, and it was pretty powerful, pretty powerful,” Baus said.

...continued at link
Oh my gosh I'm shocked! I've been following this case for years. Wow wow wow
Now when did he buy the car? Cuz he said he could still smell the smell? Evidence! On the floorboard? does that mean they put his body on the floorboard? Or did they kill him in the car? And isn't his ex's SO still alive? I know his ex passed away.
 

Jason Futch

Well-known member
Oh my gosh I'm shocked! I've been following this case for years. Wow wow wow
Now when did he buy the car? Cuz he said he could still smell the smell? Evidence! On the floorboard? does that mean they put his body on the floorboard? Or did they kill him in the car? And isn't his ex's SO still alive? I know his ex passed away.
Yes, her SO John is still alive. If the evidence shows blood in the car, that’s enough probable cause to have him arrested and held for first degree murder. I’m not sure how the Corpus Delecti laws are in Michigan, but he could probably be at least looking at prison time still if he’s not convicted of murder.

I followed up with Joanne, Eric’s Mom, once I found out about the car. She’s pretty shaken up by the news and can’t really say anything about the discovery. She did say I should reach out to her Son in Law and follow up with him, which I may do!
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
Yes, her SO John is still alive. If the evidence shows blood in the car, that’s enough probable cause to have him arrested and held for first degree murder. I’m not sure how the Corpus Delecti laws are in Michigan, but he could probably be at least looking at prison time still if he’s not convicted of murder.

I followed up with Joanne, Eric’s Mom, once I found out about the car. She’s pretty shaken up by the news and can’t really say anything about the discovery. She did say I should reach out to her Son in Law and follow up with him, which I may do!
Praying this leads to Eric so he can finally be laid to rest by his dear sweet mama. :praying:
 

Jason Futch

Well-known member
THE PLOT THICKENS!



Missing man’s car was apparently hidden in garage of a vulnerable adult
The caretaker of vulnerable adult was mother of Eric Franks' child
Missing man's car

Missing man's car(Chad Baus)
By Terry Camp
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 5:09 PM CDT

SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - 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.
 

Skitt

Well-known member

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.

[more at link]
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
That just gives me the chills! It's just been sitting in that garage waiting to be found. And the timeliness! now I want to learn how to use Carfax on all of these crime cases where a car is missing!

I just want to wrap my arms around Eric's mom.
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
And just think if there had not been a podcast/youtube video this student was watching with the info needed, this may never have occurred. And then I am pretty sure you pay for a Carfax report and many people wouldn't, I probably wouldn't have in a case that old, thinking like others, it was probably long gone (the car)... So the student willingly paid...

Just amazing how it all came about, it struck me reading that just a few days off and it wouldn't have shown up.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
I didn't realize you had to pay for those reports, but I guess that makes sense. I looked it up and it said that the best way to get a free one is to know somebody that's a car dealer. Lol
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
I didn't realize you had to pay for those reports, but I guess that makes sense. I looked it up and it said that the best way to get a free one is to know somebody that's a car dealer. Lol
Yeah, I don't know how it works these days but back when I think you could do a membership or pay for so many searches, otherwise each single one is higher priced I think.

I have a question for everyone--wouldn't this title and transfer or whatever have to be forged? Who signed it and forged it? His mother was the car owner right so did someone forge her signature?
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
Yeah, I don't know how it works these days but back when I think you could do a membership or pay for so many searches, otherwise each single one is higher priced I think.

I have a question for everyone--wouldn't this title and transfer or whatever have to be forged? Who signed it and forged it? His mother was the car owner right so did someone forge her signature?
I don't know about in that state, but in this state if a vehicle has been abandoned on your property for so long, you can have it legally transferred into your name. I can't remember how long it is? I actually had that situation in my life before where my ex got a car from somebody and they were looking for the title and couldn't find it and after a year we were able to put it in our name. ( He used to like to fix up old cars.)

It might have even been less than a year? I just can't remember.
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
I don't know about in that state, but in this state if a vehicle has been abandoned on your property for so long, you can have it legally transferred into your name. I can't remember how long it is? I actually had that situation in my life before where my ex got a car from somebody and they were looking for the title and couldn't find it and after a year we were able to put it in our name. ( He used to like to fix up old cars.)

It might have even been less than a year? I just can't remember.
That's interesting, I have never heard of that.

In this case though, I am surprised they would not have the vehicle flagged like by LE for DMV notification if the car/VIN, etc. ever came through their system. Since it and he were missing I mean. I guess things don't work like that but it would be good if they did in a case and those systems worked together.
 

Kimster

Let's Find Michael Bryson!
Staff member
That's interesting, I have never heard of that.

In this case though, I am surprised they would not have the vehicle flagged like by LE for DMV notification if the car/VIN, etc. ever came through their system. Since it and he were missing I mean. I guess things don't work like that but it would be good if they did in a case and those systems worked together.
You're absolutely right. They should have had that car in their NCIC system!
 

GrandmaBear

Deputized Emu Slayer/Horse Thief Hunter
Okay I remember a caveat to it. It belonged to her father or another relative who had passed away and so the person we got it from couldn't transfer the title.

It was a yellow VW bug.
I have done it, you generally need the death certificate of your father or relative and perhaps the personal representative of the estate signing the vehicle over to you whether purchased or gifted. If I recall correctly.
 

Guess Who

Well-known member
And just think if there had not been a podcast/youtube video this student was watching with the info needed, this may never have occurred. And then I am pretty sure you pay for a Carfax report and many people wouldn't, I probably wouldn't have in a case that old, thinking like others, it was probably long gone (the car)... So the student willingly paid...

Just amazing how it all came about, it struck me reading that just a few days off and it wouldn't have shown up.
You pay for them either by subscription or individually. If somebody had access to a subscription, it possibly didn't cost anything, but yes, you pay for one of those.
 

Skitt

Well-known member
Interesting twist to the man who passed away.... He left $2.7 million to city police, fire, and Red Cross.




SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - $1.8 million dollars is a lot of money.

That’s how much Saginaw’s public safety departments are getting from a man who recently passed away.

Gerald Rutledge was 84 years old when he died in April.

His name has come up in a recent news story. We will get to that in just a bit.

But for now, his generosity is taking center stage.

“He had a guardianship, through the public guardian’s office, and they let us know when he passed away, and it was our job to clean out the house and get it sold as part of the estate,” says Jim Thomas.

Thomas is an elder law attorney with the law office of Carol Thomas and handled the estate of Gerald Rutledge, who lived in a modest west side Saginaw home until he passed away in April. Rutledge had dementia. He died with a lot of money.

“I believe an hourly employee at GM, and he didn’t have any children or anything like that, and didn’t seem to spend a lot of money, just accumulated that through his life,” says Thomas.

Thomas says Rutledge is leaving $2.7 million-dollars to three entities.

“The three different charities the money is going to, the American Red Cross-Saginaw Chapter, the Saginaw Police Department and the Saginaw Fire Department,” Thomas says.

$900-thousand will go to the police department and another $900-thousand will go to the fire department. The two department’s budgets for the next fiscal year shows the significance of the gifts, the $900-thousand is more than ten percent of the fire budget. Thomas says his mother Carol remembers why Rutledge, who made the will in 2006, wanted to leave so much money to public safety.

“She recalls, she thinks his dad my have been either part of the fire department, or part of the police department,” Thomas says.

Thomas says the gifts should be delivered to the three entities in the next month or two.

“We’ve had clients leave a few thousand dollars here and there, something like that, but not this amount,” he says

I spoke with or texted some city officials today about the money, but they were not completely aware of the gifts and they did not want to comment at this time.

News of the gifts to the three entities happens as Rutledge’s home became the center of a cold case missing persons investigation.

Michigan State Police believe Rutledge’s garage was used to store a car that has been missing from the Bridgeport area. The car, and its owner, Eric Franks vanished in March 2011. The car was found in Clare on Tuesday. It had been purchased by a man in an estate sale held after Rutledge died. The car is now at the MSP Crime Lab.

Police do not believe Rutledge had knowledge that the car was in his garage.
 

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