New developments in 2011 missing persons case

Published: Mar. 21, 2017 at 3:44 PM EDT
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(03/21/17) - There are new developments in a missing persons case that began to unfold six years ago Tuesday.

Eric Franks vanished on March 21, 2011, last seen in Saginaw County. So did his car.

Police are working on at least two fresh leads. One of those leads is a phone number that the cell phone owned by Franks called, a few weeks after he went missing.

Franks was 38 years old when he was last seen at Miller's Motel in Bridgeport Township, but he was also seen at a home in Buena Vista Township, where Kendra Firmingham and her husband once lived.

Carol Westoby lives near that home and remembers what happened there months after Franks went missing.

“Yes I have seen the police there,” she said. “The people that lived there, just one night, in the middle of the night, packed up and moved. That was strange.”

Firmingham and her husband moved to Florida, where she died of cancer in August. Police have talked to her husband about Franks' disappearance.

“He again acknowledges that he knows nothing about what happened to Eric Franks,” said Hillary House, of the Michigan State Police.

Franks moved from Ohio to be near Firmingham after Firmingham told him that he was the father of her daughter. Months later, Franks vanished without a trace, along with his car.

“It’s amazing that we have never located it all these years,” House said.

House says she has tracked down a person in Phoenix, Arizona, who was contacted by someone using Franks' cell phone, weeks after Franks disappeared.

“We are just trying to locate this person to see if they have any knowledge of the people involved, because that would indicate who had Eric's phone after he went missing,” House said.

Another lead involves an airplane that Firmingham's husband owned, which was sold after Franks vanished. The plane has been found in Mississippi and police there will search it for evidence.

“The body could have been flown to another area and dumped at a remote area,” House said.

It’s just one theory in an array of possibilities when the question is asked, ‘What happened to Eric Franks?’

“We would like to get some answers, and I think Eric's mom would like to get some answers,” Westoby said.

Police are still asking anyone who had contact with Eric Franks while he was in Mid-Michigan to give them a call.

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