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Originally published February 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 27, 2008 at 3:46 AM

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Police to review missing SeaTac man's phone records

King County detectives plan to review cellphone records for a SeaTac man who has been missing since Feb. 13 in hopes of discovering information...

Seattle Times staff reporter

King County detectives plan to review cellphone records for a SeaTac man who has been missing since Feb. 13 in hopes of discovering information about his whereabouts.

Nicholas Francisco, 28, disappeared after calling home from his office and telling his wife he would be home after he ran a quick errand, according to a family friend. He never arrived.

His car was found Monday in the parking lot of a Federal Way condominium complex, but police said a search of the vehicle did not provide any information about what may have happened to Francisco.

Aside from the man's disappearance, police said, there was no evidence of a crime.

Police tried to use Francisco's cellphone to track him but discovered it had either been turned off or was dead.

Investigators then sought a search warrant to compel his cellphone carrier to release the man's phone records, but a judge refused to sign the warrant because there was no evidence of a crime, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart. "Being missing is not a crime," Urquhart said.

Urquhart said privacy issues generally prevent cellphone carriers from releasing phone records without a search warrant.

Private negotiations with Francisco's cellphone company resulted in T-Mobile's "generous" offer to release the records voluntarily, according to his wife, Christine Francisco.

She said she turned the records over to detectives Friday.

Police access to cellphone records in a missing-persons case was an issue last year when a Maple Valley woman, Tanya Rider, disappeared on her way home from work and was not found for more than seven days.

Her husband was angry when Rider's cellphone carrier refused to turn over her phone records without a search warrant.

Investigators were not able to get the search warrant, Urquhart said, until they could show a judge there had been no activity on her bank card for several days.

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Once Rider's records were received, the sheriff's office was able to determine the last cellphone tower used by her phone, which gave investigators a 3- to 5-mile radius in which to begin their search, he said.

Several hours later, Rider was found trapped in her car, which had crashed into a ravine near Renton.

Christine Francisco said her husband is a religious man who loved being a father to the couple's two toddlers and was thrilled to learn on his birthday last month that she was expecting their third child.

She said he would never voluntarily walk away from his responsibilities to his family.

"He is not a coward," she said.

His family has set up the Nicholas Francisco Family Fund at Washington Mutual to assist his wife and their children in his absence. A reward of $15,000 is being offered for information about his whereabouts.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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