Cold Case: Lemmon Valley child missing for 30 years

Reported by: Alyx Sacks
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Updated: 5/09/2013 7:44 am

LEMMON VALLEY, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- For Liza Ackerman-Stewart the unknown is hard to imagine.

"What were his last minutes? Or was he crying for me and I wasn't there to help him or protect him?" Ackerman-Stewart says.

She is left begging for answers. She lives in a parent's nightmare.

"I get angry, because they can find criminals before they can find our kids," Ackerman-Stewart says.

Liza is the mother of Anthony Franko, a 10-year-old boy who went missing 30 years ago.

"I want him home. I just want to see his face," Ackerman-Stewart says.

Although she was not the original investigator, the case now sits on the desk of Detective Kathleen Bishop with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office.

"You treat it as though it's a new case," Detective Bishop says.

Files and memories are all that are left from that day. It was May 9th, 1983. Like every morning Liza went to Tony's room to lay out clothes for him to wear to school.

"He woke up in that morning just like any young boy does," Detective Bishop says.

Liza kissed him goodbye and left for work. Later that morning Tony's stepfather heard him go out and feed his rabbit and then believed he heard him leave to walk to school.

But Tony never made to his class at Lemmon Valley Elementary School.

"Normally Tony used to call and say, "Mom I'm home from school,"" Ackerman-Stewart remembers.

That call never came. When Ackerman-Stewart came home from work only to find Tony still wasn't home.

Family, friends, neighbors, the sheriff's office, all searched for Tony. Days turned into weeks.

Liza began to loose hope.

"I put a 38 to my head, because I was so scared I couldn't live without him, but something stopped me from doing that actually I said if I did that and they found him, I'd be gone," Ackerman-Stewart says.

The case has now run cold. With no new leads, Detective Bishop has re-traced all the steps and re-interviewed everyone.

"You actually never know what little piece of information you think is unimportant, but actually really important and that will lead to knowing what happened to Tony Franko," Detective Bishop says.

Now Liza and her husband celebrate Tony's birthday every year. He is or would be 40-years-old.

"I feel guilty about it. I feel saddened, because I'm not out there looking for him have to live on," Ackerman-Stewart says.

For more on Franko's missing person information click here. (Note, the date Franko went missing on the flyer is incorrect).

Also, Franko is one of only two missing children cases with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, both are from Lemmon Valley.

Jennifer Martin went missing on June 28, 1987.

Martin was just 11-years-old. She was last scene near a 7-11 in Lemmon Valley after she walked there to buy a coke.

For more on Martin's missing person information click here.

If you have any information regarding any of these cases you are urged to contact the Washoe County Sheriff's Office at 328-3001.
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kdavis52 - 5/9/2013 2:20 PM
0 Votes
Anyone that has doubts of their birth parents/assumed parents should have their DNA tested and try to get a sample...like hair from the parents. Just saying. Some child abuse is questionable in earlier years of childhood. If they're still alive and old enough the victim can figure it out especially if they were hoodwicked(brainwashed) into thinking that their own parents don't care or that told their parents were killed. All kinds of scenarios are possible.

roseanya - 5/9/2013 12:34 PM
0 Votes
Two in Lemon Valley? Someone who lived around there, perhaps. Of the kids recovered, most under 16 or so, sounds like they would have contacted family and friends when emancipated or old enough....
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