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Originally published Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Missing man's wife ponders her likely life without him

Christine Francisco has gone on searches, prayed and even asked for help on national television, but after 3 ½ weeks she has lost hope...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Christine Francisco has gone on searches, prayed and even asked for help on national television, but after 3 ½ weeks she has lost hope that her husband will come home.

Jobless, two months pregnant and raising two small children, Francisco said she has had to put her emotions behind her and focus on supporting her young family. She believes Nicholas, her husband of seven years, was murdered, but she also understands why authorities say he may have disappeared voluntarily.

Nicholas Francisco, 28, vanished after leaving his Queen Anne graphic-design job on Feb. 13. Five days later, his red 1992 Toyota Paseo was found abandoned outside a Federal Way condominium complex.

King County sheriff's investigators say there was nothing inside the car to indicate foul play or to point to the SeaTac man's whereabouts. As a result, investigators have scaled back their search for him.

Francisco admits she and her husband, whom she met nearly a decade ago when they were students at the Art Institute of Seattle, didn't have a perfect marriage. But, she said, he wouldn't abandon their children.

Regardless of the reason for his disappearance, the 27-year-old woman said she has to consider her pregnancy and her children, ages 2 and 4.

"There's a point you have to face the facts," Francisco said on Friday. "You can't sit and hide in a corner your whole life, especially if you have kids. His disappearance hasn't made the world stop spinning; the bills need to be paid."

Francisco said she will meet with a financial adviser in the coming days to find out how she can manage their mortgage and bills. She said that Publicis, the firm where Nicholas worked, is still paying his salary, but eventually that money and donations that have trickled in to help her will run out. Detectives have searched the couple's financial records and found nothing to help lead them to the missing man, said sheriff's Sgt. James Laing.

Detectives and Francisco are relying heavily on the Internet with the hope of finding Nicholas. While Laing said investigators are checking the Internet for possible sightings, Francisco said she checks crime blogs for clues. But she said it's difficult because many bloggers believe she had something to do with her husband's disappearance, or that he abandoned them.

"People are gossiping about me; they're saying things that are untrue," she said. "It's like junior high school. It's ridiculous."

Laing said that if Nicholas Francisco did disappear on his own, there is nothing illegal about it.

"People disappear for various reasons all the time," Laing said. "Adults decide they want to start another life for various reasons."

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Laing said detectives will continue investigating until they can entirely rule out that the disappearance isn't connected to a crime. But, he added, the case no longer remains at the forefront because there are other missing-persons cases with "concrete leads."

"We have to prioritize things that are going on," Laing said. "Unless there is something to indicate there is a crime, we are kind of stuck."

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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