The Forgotten Woman of Middleburgh

Erica Franolich disappeared nearly four decades ago, and her family want answers.

Josie Klakström

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The town of Cobleskill is situated a little under 12 miles from Middleburgh. Recently, it received two new sinister additions to the welcome party of billboards on the way into town. Erected in May, they contain a sad message that is bound to garner the strongest of reactions by any passer-by. The reality is that Erica Franolich wasn’t just another missing face; she had been completely forgotten.

Erica Franolich via www.investigationsforthemissing.org

26-year-old Erica was from a large family in Waterford, Michigan. She’d met Richard Franolich in Texas while she was still with her first son’s father. She and Richard married soon after, and together they had another son, Ricky. The pair travelled with the construction job Richard was working and eventually moved back to Michigan to be near Erica’s family in 1986.

The family stayed with Erica’s parents and siblings, moving from house to house. The couple’s relationship was turbulent, and they regularly fought, with the boys often at the epicentre of the turmoil.

During an argument in the summer before Erica went missing, Richard had taken his son and moved to Duanesburg. Despite being over 500 miles from where the couple was living in Michigan. Erica followed them in an effort to get her son back, and the pair ended up reconciling, with Richard returning home to his wife and stepson.

The family eventually accused Erica of stealing from them to buy drugs, and the family were left to fend for themselves, moving between friend’s houses and living in their car. Soon after, the pair drove to New York state in October and made their home in Middleburgh, around an hour from Albany.

While at a bar in town, Erica called her brother from a payphone, saying she was afraid for her life and needed to leave her husband. The call lasted nearly 50 minutes, in which Erica claimed she couldn’t call the police to get help, as there was an officer with them in the bar. Her brother told Erica that he’d buy her a bus ticket and to call him back the following day to make plans, but he never heard from her again.

Erica had been seen fighting inside the bar and on the sidewalk with her husband, which multiple…

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Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing. www.truecrimeedition.com