Parents fear missing Petaluma teen traveling to New York
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.
The parents of a 15-year-old Petaluma boy missing since the weekend said Wednesday they feared the teen was traveling to New York City to meet a 41-year-old man he met online.
Justin Franz's parents last saw the teen when he went to bed Sunday night. They reported him missing to Petaluma police Monday morning when the boy was not in his room, Rolando Franz said.
After three days with no sign of the Casa Grande sophomore, Rolando and Nanette Franz announced their son's disappearance as details emerged of an elaborate plan concocted between Justin Franz and a Pennsylvania man to meet in New York City.
FBI investigators are involved in the case.
“The only thing that Justin needs to know is that we love him more than anything,” said Rolando Franz of Petaluma. “What he has done or intended to do is meaningless compared to how much we want him to come home.”
Justin Franz was described by his father as about 5-foot-11 and 140 pounds with light brown hair in a crew cut. He is believed to be en route to New York City.
After his disappearance, his parents and police found a trove of communication on the teen's computer and cell phone, which he left behind, with a man his father described as persistent and manipulative
“All the different messaging being done indicates he's a predator,” Rolando Franz said.
He last saw his son at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday after a brief fight over the use of a laptop computer.
Computers and cell phones are to be kept in a central location in the home and not used at night, but on Sunday, Justin Franz continued to use his computer after his father asked him to put it away, his father said.
“I said off to bed you go, and of course we had words, but certainly nothing more than, ‘You can't do that,' and a little bit of yelling,” Rolando Franz said. “Apparently this had all been planned, he was lured away from our house.”
Justin Franz went to bed, but the next morning his parents discovered that the straight-A student was not in his room. Justin Franz's father described the teen as an exceptional student who could “do trigonometry with one hand tied behind his back.”
He spent the weekend volunteering, on Saturday at a charity run at Shollenberger Park then on Sunday at three church services. The family had a special Sunday dinner and then watched the baseball game.
Rolando Franz described their disagreement as a typical spat between a teenager and parent.
And although his parents had passwords to his Facebook and other account, the teen apparently set up a different password to his computer.
Rolando Franz said he suspects the Pennsylvania man made the travel arrangements and wired his son money.
“The only rhyme and reason that we have is there is predator out there,” Rolando Franz said.
Anyone with information about the case can call Petaluma police at 778-4372.
(You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jjpressdem.)
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