MI MI - Franklin Gottschalk, 25, Mason, 2 Feb 1997


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May 17, 2005
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Franklin Gottschalk
Missing since February 2, 1997 from Mason, Ingham County, Michigan
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics
  • Age at Time of Disappearance: 25 years old
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: White male. Brown hair.

Circumstances of Disappearance
Gottschalk was last seen at his residence in Mason, Michigan on February 2, 1997.
He had been an English major at Michigan State University and was within three credits of graduating, but he did not register for classes for the spring semester of 1997. On February 2 he drove off in his brother's car, without permission, and has never been heard from again.
Gottschalk's brother's vehicle was found in a parking lot at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Cedar Street in Lansing, Michigan. There was no sign of Gottschalk at the scene, but cyclists found two bags belonging to him on the Shiawassee Street bridge. Divers searched the water beneath the bridge but found no clues relating to Gottschalk's case. There was nothing missing from the bags except Gottschalk's black leather jacket, his Detroit Lions coat, his wallet, and a watch his mother had given him. His case remains unsolved.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Eloy Police Department

MSU English senior Frank Gottschalk disappeared 10 years ago today.

The 25-year-old took his brother's car without permission and left his Mason home for good that cold February night.

Whether he wanted his trip to be permanent is still under investigation by the Ingham County Sheriff's Department.

"There was no evidence of foul play, but I wasn't investigating the case," Ingham County Sheriff's Department Det. Billy Mitchell said.

The detectives who worked on the case have all since retired, he said.

The only clues the department disclosed following the 1997 disappearance include Gottschalk's brother's abandoned vehicle, which was found at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Cedar Street in Lansing, along with two of Gottschalk's bags filled with his belongings on the Shiawassee Street bridge, also in Lansing.

Gottschalk's wallet, black leather jacket, watch and Detroit Lions coat were missing from the bags, Gottschalk's mother, Adeline, told The State News in 1997.

"This is totally out of his realm," she said then. "We were very close and he always calls. It was my birthday on March 5, and he didn't call."

This case follows a trend of missing or drowned college-age men throughout the Midwest in the past 10 years.

Gottschalk's parents could not be reached for comment.

A high school classmate told police he spotted Gottschalk at a submarine shop on Okemos Road on Feb. 22, 1997. The only other lead came in Feb. 10, 2004, when Gottschalk's father called the department with some news, Mitchell said.

"He had gotten a call from Capitol One Visa advising him that Franklin had applied for a credit card and used the dad's name as a reference," he said. "We received a response from Capitol One's security people on Feb. 12 stating they had looked into the application and found no sign of a Franklin Gottschalk." Police combed the Grand River that flows under the bridge where they found Gottschalk's belongings following his disappearance, but came up empty-handed.

Featured on Livingston County's new cold case Facebook page:



NamUs: https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/9159
I don't think he committed suicide, but rather he was assaulted and murdered, maybe buried somewhere nearby, it shows that he was a diligent and intelligent young man


5 Unidentified Person Exclusions

Case Photo

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP2047
Date Body FoundApril 03, 1997

Case Photo

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP787
Date Body FoundFebruary 09, 2002

Case Photo

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP6637
Date Body FoundOctober 07, 2006

Case Photo

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP6639
Date Body FoundJuly 28, 2007

Case Photo

Unidentified Person / NamUs #UP5239
Date Body FoundJanuary 01, 2008
I've been in contact with his family. They'd like to do a push on his case. I'm going to help them.
I still think that suicide is far and away the most likely explanation. I hope that some leads can be generated, but I fear that such efforts may prove fruitless.

As for the missing items, I think that there's a good chance that they were stolen by the first person who found the bags. The things that are missing seem like the exact things that someone might filch.

If he didn't kill himself, then someone faked his suicide. There's no obvious reason why he would do that, and it seems extremely unlikely that anyone else would do it.

It might be worthwhile to dig into his background to see whether he had ever had any mental health issues such as depression. It would also be worth looking at his family history to see if there was anything like schizophrenia or delusional thinking. A mentally sound person might run away for personal reasons, but I don't think a mentally sound person who was not in any trouble with the law would steal his brother's car and stage his suicide.

Odd are that he was depressed and his upcoming birthday was the trigger that made him take his own life. Maybe he felt like his life had not moved forward the way that he had hoped. Maybe he felt like he should have finished college already; maybe he wasn't having any success with women.
I'm actually looking into something extremely interesting right now:

I'm very limited on time this week, so the chances are that it'll be next weekend I attempt to tie all of the drownings together.

For what it's worth, I don't believe Franklin drove that car, or if he did, it was a ruse by his abductor. I'll try my best to get my theory out next weekend.

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