Young Dad's Disappearance Does Not Add Up

Authorities say foul play and intentional flight both remain possibilities.


Feb. 21, 2008— -- The weeklong search for a missing husband and father of two with a third baby on the way has produced more questions than answers for his family and detectives in Washington state.

"This guy is for all intents and purposes a family man," John Urquhart, a spokesman for the King County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News one week after 28-year-old Nicholas Francisco vanished after what seemed like a typical day of work at a downtown Seattle design company. "It's most clearly a disappearance into thin air."

Francisco spoke to his wife, Christine, last Wednesday evening before leaving his office. He was supposed to stop at a local Costco to pick up sugar to bake Valentine's Day cookies with his daughter, Zea. A colleague saw him leave the office and head toward his red Toyota hatchback, Urquhart said. But he never arrived at Costco, and he never arrived home.

His wife filed a missing persons report, and the investigation into his disappearance began. Monday, Feb. 18, his car was found in the parking lot of a condominium building in Federal Way, Wash., about a half hour from his own house in Sea-Tac. It was the first major break in the case but only compounded confusion for investigators.

"If you're going to your home in Sea-Tac, you would not go to Federal Way," Urquhart said, adding that discovery of the car suggests Francisco may have taken off on his own. "He's got some financial problems, according to the wife," he said. "He's got a hell of a big family. ... He could have left on his own."

The car provided few clues about exactly what happened in the four days between his disappearance and the recovery of the vehicle. "The car is unlocked, the ignition is intact," Urquhart said. "No bullet holes, no body, no blood. Nothing."

With each passing day, the most likely scenarios for cases such as this one have been eliminated. Authorities checked local hospitals for patients suffering from amnesia and local jails to search for newly booked inmates matching Francisco's identity or description.

Authorities also are considering that he was a victim of foul play but have no reason to believe Francisco had enemies who would want to harm him. At the same time, if someone targeted him randomly, it's unlikely the perpetrator would hold onto him for so long, Urquhart said.

Christine Francisco pleaded for authorities, friends and co-workers to help find her husband. "If you can't find him, these kids won't have a daddy," she told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV in a tearful interview. "This unborn baby won't have a daddy."

The couple's third child is due in October. In addition to their daughter, the family has a 2-year-old son, Noah.

Before he hung up after speaking with his wife last week, Francisco told her that his cell phone had gone dead -- a detail that has prevented authorities from tracking him. Authorities haven't seen any activity in his bank accounts, though Urquhart said they have not yet obtained all his financial records.

The case has left detectives grasping for answers.

"We have no motivation that he would voluntarily leave," Urquhart said. "By the same token, we have no reason for foul play to befall him."

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