Anthony Bernard Franko

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5 6 AP
Top Row and Bottom Left and Center: Anthony, circa 1983;
Bottom Right: Age-progression to age 36 (circa 2008)

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Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: May 8, 1983 from Lemmon Valley, Nevada
  • Classification: Non-Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: August 15, 1972
  • Age: 10 years old
  • Height and Weight: 4'11, 85 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes. Anthony has a slight gap between his upper front teeth and small birthmarks above his left eyebrow and on the right side of his neck. He has two light-colored moles on his cheek and nose and a scar under his lower lip. His nickname is Tony.
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description: A red San Francisco 49ers t-shirt, blue jeans, a blue down hooded jacket, and hiking boots.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Anthony was last seen walking to his school on the morning of May 8, 1983 in Lemmon Valley, Nevada. He was a fifth grade student at Lemmon Valley Elementary School, and lived with his mother and stepfather a half-mile from the school.

    Although Anthony's normal route to school was to walk north of Fremont Street, he apparently went in the opposite direction the morning he disappeared. A witness saw him in a cul-de-sac on the south end of Fremont Street, talking to an unknown individual driving a rusted out vehicle, possibly a Ford Pinto or a Camaro. He never arrived at school and has never been heard from again. The school didn't notify his family that he didn't show up for class; as a result, they didn't realize he was missing until later that day, when he didn't call his mother as he was supposed to do every day after he got home from school. She notified the police after she came home, it got dark and Anthony had still not arrived home.

    Anthony was a member of the 4-H Club, and the day before his disappearance he won a blue ribbon for showing his pet pony and two rabbits at a 4-H show. He took his ribbon with him when he left for school the next day, planning to show it to classmates. A month before his disappearance, he ran away from home and went into the mountains after his mother punished him for poor grades. But that time he took some food and dishes with him, left a goodbye note, and then returned home within hours. When he came back, he cried and told his mother he would never run away again.

    When Anthony vanished in May 1983 the police initially assumed he'd run away a second time, and didn't start to investigate other theories until several days had passed. His mother never believed he had run away, because he was very happy on the day of his disappearance due to his 4-H ribbon. Both his mother and stepfather took polygraph tests and were ruled out as suspects. His mother stated Anthony was somewhat naive for his age and would have talked to a stranger.

    A defrocked priest named Stephen Kiesle became a suspect in Anthony's case in mid-2002. He has since been arrested and charged with molesting three girls at the Santa Paula Catholic Church in Fremont, where he worked from 1968 to 1971. Police searched his yard three times, using cadaver-sniffing dogs, radar, and a backhoe. They were looking not only for evidence in Anthony's disappearance but also evidence in the disappearances of Amber Swartz-Garcia and Jennifer Martin. Anthony had disappeared only a block from the same 7-11 Jennifer visited just before she vanished, but investigators haven't been able to find any other connection between the two cases. The only item police found in Kiesle's yard was a bag full of dirt and decomposed clothing. The searches concluded in July 2002.

    Investigators believe Anthony was abducted while walking to school and probably murdered. His mother continues to hope he's still alive. No strong suspects have ever been identified in his disappearance; it remains unsolved.

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    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Washoe County Sheriff's Office
    775-328-3001

    OR
    775-328-3369

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    Source Information
    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    Nation's Missing Children Organization
    Operation Lookout
    California Attorney General's Office
    KOLO TV
    The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes by Michael Newton
    The Reno Gazette-Journal

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    Updated 6 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated June 28, 2015; picture added, details of disappearance updated.

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