Details of Disappearance
Francillon's mother, Amy Elizabeth Luster (later known as Amy Fleming), and stepfather, Mahaleel "Lee" Luster, stated he was last seen at the Broad Acres Swap Meet in North Las Vegas, Nevada on August 2, 1986. He has never been heard from again.
The child lived with Amy and Lee at the time of his disappearance. His biological father, Jean Pierre, was Amy's former husband; Amy got custody after their divorce in 1985.
The Lusters had been charged with felony child abuse in December 1985 after they beat Francillon and caused 30 to 40 welts on his back; it was almost entirely covered in bruises. Francillon was placed in foster care at that time.
Amy admitted she had whipped him with a belt. Once she said she had done it because he wet the bed, and another time she claimed he had started a fire. Amy stated she was the only one who disciplined her son and that Lee never did, but Lee also admitted to having beaten Francillon.
In April 1986, four months before Francillon's disappearance, Lee and Amy posted bail and were released from jail, where they had been held pending trial for the child abuse charges. Although the abuse case against them was still open, in May, Francillon was returned to his mother and stepfather's custody.
Afterwards, social workers attempted to make home visits to check on Francillon's welfare, but Amy repeatedly told them this "wouldn't do" and would not let them see her son.
In July 1986, friends and neighbors started seeing bruises on Francillon. Amy told them she had punished him because he had urinated and defecated on the floor and set small fires inside the house. Amy also had bruises on her, and she told a close friend that she was afraid of Lee and that he had beaten her on multiple occasions.
Lee later admitted he forced Francillon to run in circles around the coffee table as discipline, and also forced the child to sleep outside for at least one night. A friend of Amy's noticed Francillon had a severe burn on his hand and scratches on his face, but Amy claimed the injuries were an accident and were healing well.
A formal hearing on the child abuse charges against the Lusters was scheduled for August 26, and social workers were supposed to make a home visit at least two weeks before the hearing. On August 2, Amy and Lee told the police they'd taken the boy to the swap meet and lost track of him there.
Amy said they stopped at the food stand, at 11:30 a.m. and purchased food, and Lee wanted to buy a bicycle for Francillon. Francillon was at the entrance, about six to nine feet away, at the time. While Amy was taking their food to a table to eat, and Lee was at the bike shop next to the food stand, Francillon disappeared. He has never been heard from again.
Lee and Amy both took two polygraphs about Francillon's disappearance, and they failed the tests both times. In December 1986, they were charged with ten counts of obstruction of justice.
Authorities stated they had lied about numerous things, including their backgrounds, where they had lived and worked, and the events leading up to Francillon's disappearance. Amy also told the police she did not use a babysitter for Francillon, and later admitted this was untrue and that numerous people had babysat him shortly before his disappearance.
The majority of witnesses at the swap meet on the day Francillon's reported disappearance was reported said they never saw him there. In fact, no one outside the family claimed to have seen Francillon for at least a week, possibly two weeks, before August 2.
Two people Amy claimed had babysat Francillon just days before his disappearance said they had not done so. Neighbors of the family said they'd seen Amy and Lee leave the house alone on the morning Francillon is said to have disappeared.
Amy and Lee later pleaded guilty to some of the obstruction charges and admitted to having lied to police. Amy was sentenced to 112 days in jail, and Lee to 180 days. While they were serving their jail sentences, the Lusters wrote many letters back and forth between each other, which corrections officers later seized as evidence. They rarely wrote about Francillon or his disappearance.
In one letter, Amy wrote to Lee, "Just as you couldn't stand to send me to prison, I cannot stand to see you hate me, that hurts more than prison, can you still love me, forgive me for falling short?" In another note Amy wrote him, which was later torn up, she wrote, "What happened was totally unintentional, I'm sorry, I hope you know that."
Two witnesses went to the police in March 1987 and said during an inmate visit at the jail, they heard Lee tell an unidentified woman, "Amy killed the baby" and "Amy killed him, I know that Amy killed him." They recognized Lee from his photo in news articles about Francillon's disappearance.
The Lusters suggested Jean might have been involved in Francillon's disappearance. Investigators located him in Haiti about two and a half months later and searched his apartment, but found no trace of Francillon. Jean then traveled to Nevada, took a lie detector test and passed. He was ruled out as a suspect.
Lee and Amy moved to Florida about eleven months after Francillon disappeared. They stated they still believed Jean had taken Francillon, and that the reason they moved to Florida was to be closer to Haiti, where they believed he was.
Francillon's case was re-investigated after someone tried to steal his identity in 2017. In January 2019, Amy was charged with his murder. Photos of her and Lee are posted with this case summary.
In August 2021, Amy accepted a plea deal, submitting an Alford plea of no contest to involuntary manslaughter in her son's death. An Alford plea does not require the defendant to admit guilt, but only for them to acknowledge the state has enough evidence to convict them.
Amy maintains her innocence in her son's disappearance. She was sentenced to two years in prison, but with credit for the time she already served in jail awaiting the outcome of her case, she will only have to serve eight months.
Foul play is suspected in Francillon's case due to the circumstances involved. Investigators believe his body may be in Lake Mead.