Details of Disappearance Eric exited his Northern Lebanon school bus near the intersection of US Route 22 and Pennsylvania Route 72 in Union Township, Pennsylvania on December 12, 2000. Instead of heading towards his house, he walked towards the Jonestown Bible Church.
He was last seen walking behind the church, towards a wooded area near U.S. Route 22, at approximately 2:30 p.m. A secretary at the church saw him and it is believed he used the church bathroom. Later that night, as the secretary was locking up the building, she saw footprints, possibly Eric's, in the snow. He has never been heard from again.
Eric and his younger brother lived with their older sister, Maria Custer, and her husband and three children on Awol Road in 2000. Their parents resided in Luray, Virginia. Custer took custody of the two boys after their parents neglected them. She stated both of her brothers had behavioral problems.
Eric rebelled against her rules and curfews by running away several times in the past, but he always returned by nightfall. Custer said that Eric used the first name "Nick" as an alias because he took the name while playing 'school' as a young child. He also told people he was from Cleona, Pennsylvania, but his sister reported that Eric was unfamiliar with the town. He has been known to hitchhike in the past.
Custer enrolled Eric in counseling sessions after he moved to Pennsylvania. He was an inpatient at Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare Services two times, and Custer also attempted to have him placed in a residential treatment center to address his behavioral issues.
Authorities said there were unconfirmed sightings of Eric at the Mount Gretna Roller Rink, at a local mall and other areas in the vicinity after his disappearance. Search dogs tracked his scent to a densely wooded area near his home, but no trace of him could be found.
Custer has since remarried and taken the last name Fuhrman. She has passed a lie detector test in connection with Eric's disappearance and police do not believe she was involved in his disappearance or harmed him in any way before he vanished.
Authorities investigated the possibility that Eric ran to the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia where his parents and other relatives live. He had previously talked about going back to Virginia. Police questioned several of his family members there, but the interviews turned up no leads indicating Eric's whereabouts and there's no evidence that he ever arrived in Virginia.
Investigators believe Eric was the victim of foul play, and they have a theory as to what happened, but they have not elaborated on this theory or identified any possible suspects in his disappearance. His case remains unsolved.
The Jonestown station of the Pennsylvania State Police is handling Eric's case.
- Pennsylvania State Police
Updated 8 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 13, 2020; picture added, details of disappearance updated.