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Cadaver dog searches Saginaw garage where missing man’s car was most likely kept for years

California college student’s Carfax check found the missing car
Eric Franks has been missing since March 21, 2011, from the Saginaw area.
Eric Franks has been missing since March 21, 2011, from the Saginaw area.
Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - Now that a car that’s been missing for nine years has been located, the search for what happened to the owner intensifies.

Police were at the Saginaw home and its garage where it’s believed the car was stored for nine years, ever since Eric Franks and the car vanished in March of 2011.

Investigators today had some concrete in that garage cut up, but its not clear if they found anything. We also spoke with the California woman who gave investigators this big break in the cold case.

“Back in 2018, (the t-v show) “Disappeared” did an episode on Eric and I have been following it ever since,” says Miranda Bofman.

She is a Sacramento State University senior studying criminal justice, and while it appeared that Eric Franks' missing car was possibly scrapped and would never be found, she had an idea.

“Maybe his vehicle isn’t actually destroyed, maybe its somewhere out there,” she thought.

She works at an automotive repair place and knew that the company Carfax would automatically email her if a certain car she inquired about would have any type of service activity. Two years ago, she entered the plate number on Eric’s car with Carfax, got nothing at first, but late last month, she got a surprise.

“I got a notification on my phone asking how my service was for my 2001 Malibu, I said wait a second, I don’t have a, oh my gosh, no way, no way, this can’t happen,” she says.

The oil change was done in Clare, the car was found last week, and investigators believed it had spent most of the last nine years in the Saginaw garage of Gerald Rutledge, an incapacitated adult who had been under the care of Kendra Firmingham for a time.

Firmingham is the mother of Eric Franks' daughter. Franks’s body has not been found. Firmingham died of cancer in 2016. Rutledge, who had dementia, died in April at the age of 84.

Franks' car was part of the Rutledge estate sale. In a part of the garage that a cadaver dog searched today, an area that appears to have an altered part of the garage floor was examined. Its not clear what the dog or investigators found in the search. Bofman is hoping the Franks' family gets answers.

“If you know something, or have an idea you might know something, and you think it doesn’t matter, it might matter,” says Bofman.

The Michigan State Police is still trying to find out what happened to Eric Franks and are still asking anyone with information to give them a call.

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