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Franolich Case Not Dead

Written By Editor on 6/6/20 | 6/6/20

By David Avitabile
Erica Jane Franolich has been gone for nearly 34 years, but the search for her and the person responsible for her disappearance, continues.
Ms. Franolich, who was last seen in public on October 13, 1986 in Middleburgh, is survived by her husband, a son, at least one sister, and several brothers. Her siblings, a private investigator, and the New York State Police continue to hope that there will be a resolution to this "cold case."
In 2017, Ms. Franolich's brother Dana Poprafsky said he hoped to see a resolution in the case in his lifetime. He did not. He died in January in Michigan.
One of those who have picked up the mantel in the search for Ms. Franolich and the person responsible for her disappearance is another brother, Mike Poprafsky, who still lives in Michigan.
Ms. Franolich called him the night she disappeared from a Middleburgh bar. She said she feared for her life and would call him the next day. She never called.
"She called me that night right there in Middleburgh," Mr. Poprafsky said earlier this month.
"She said she was afraid for her life and I said, 'Run and get on a bus or airplane. Use my credit card.'"
At the time of her disappearance, the relationship between Ms. Franolich and her husband, Richard, was troubled, according to the State Police. During the summer of 1986, Richard took their baby son and moved to Duanesburg leaving Ms. Franolich with her family in Michigan. She went to New York to get the baby back and wound up reconciling with Richard.
Ms. Franolich, according to police, promised to call her brother the next day to make arrangements to leave, but she never did. Shortly afterwards, Richard took the baby boy and moved to Vermont.
When she disappeared, she was "hooked on cocaine," spending about $400 a week on her habit, her brother said.
There is no doubt, Mr. Poprafsky said, who is responsible for his sister's disappearance.
Despite the years and the death of some of her relatives and people who may have information about her disappearance, Mr. Poprafsky believes a resolution is near.
"It's going to be solved," he said.
He noted that Ms. Franolich was staying with her husband's family on Westfall Road in Delanson at the time of her disappearance. Members of the family still live in the red and white, two-story farmhouse on the property, which borders Cross Road.
When his sister spoke to him that night, Ms. Franolich did not mention that she was in MIddleburgh. He did not know she was in MIddleburgh until the next month when he received his phone bill.
Her husband Richard was working for Mr. Poprafsky when they lived in Michigan.
Mr. Poprafsky, 71, told several stories of Mr. Franolich allegedly harming his wife, including one time when Mr. Franolich allegedly "dragged her in the street with his car when they lived here."
Another person who has promised a resolution of the case is private investigator Greg Overacker of Mohawk, Herkimer County.
Mr. Overacker has been investigating the details of the disappearance for several years and was in Middleburgh twice in the past few weeks interviewing people about the night Ms. Franolich went missing. Another trip to Middleburgh to interview another possible witness is being planned.
"We've spoken to family members and based on the information from those discussions we'll be doing some searches soon," he said during an interview earlier this month.
The answer is out there, he said.
"Some of the family members could put an end to this today and it's absolutely unconscionable for them to remain silent. How they sleep at night is beyond us."
Mr. Overacker has spoken to many people involved in the case, including Ms. Franolich's husband Richard.
There are inconsistencies in his story about what happened to Ms. Franolich after October 13, 1986, according to Mr. Overacker.
At first, Mr. Franolich said he put his wife on a bus in Schenectady two or three days before Halloween, 1986, Mr. Overacker said. He did not know where she was going but had $280 on her. Then he said he put her on the bus two or three days after October 13. Then he said he put her on a bus on October 14. Mr. Franolich said he was with his wife after October 13, 1986, according to Mr. Overacker. In the four to six weeks prior to her disappearance, the Franolichs lived in several different places including his grandparents, parents, and brother's. They also stayed at the Franolich's property on Westfall and Cross Roads in Delanson.
The interviews with Mr. Franolich have been frustrating, Mr. Overacker said.
"Richard won't answer the questions. He hides behind his lawyer."
The husband, Mr. Overacker noted, "refuses to take a polygraph test. Refuses to answer any questions to the police." As anyone who has watched court drama on television knows, polygraph tests are not admissible in court, but could say whether a person is lying or not.
Mr. Franolich lives in Highgate Springs, Vermont, a few miles from the Canadian border. He is on Facebook and a message to him from the Mountain Eagle went unanswered. Mr. Franolich turned 61 on May 14. His brother Joe, whom the Franolichs lives with for a time in 1986, lives near his brother in Vermont.
The interviews will continue, Mr. Overacker added.
"There's a team of us. Now that this is our case, we're not going away. We know the family (of the husband) is being deceitful. They could end this tomorrow, but they won't."
Though Ms. Franolich's disappearance happened during age of electric typewriters and land-line phones, it has reached the Internet and been the subject of several podcasts in recent years.
Anyone who is interested in the case should watch the podcasts on YouTube, Stiticher, Apple podacsts and other sites. They are called Crawlspace or Missing Maura Murphy, Mr. Overacker said.
"The episodes pertaining to Erica's disappearance are eye opening."
Mr. Overacker and Lou Barry are private investigators "For the Missing." The non-profit organization was started by Bruce Maitland, the father of Brianna Maitland, who has been missing since March 19, 2004. Ms. Maitlan went missing from Montgomery , Vermont, which is very close to where Mr. Franolich now lives. Mr. Overacker noted that Mr. Franloch's son once dated Ms. Maitland's best friend.
Anyone with information about Ms. Franolich's disappearance can contact Mr. Overacker at (315) 542-7800.
Ms. Franolich's niece, Tanya Lynn Poprafsky, who lives in Michigan, added, "I want it to be known that we are still fighting for justice for Erica. And even though my aunts and uncles are getting up there in age, the second generation is not going to forget and move on from this. Her other nieces and nephews will continue to look for her!"

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