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Police divers continue search for BC student

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: Featured, News


Franco Garcia, 21, a student at Boston College (BC) and West Newton resident, has been missing since Feb. 22, and police have no leads as to his whereabouts.

Garcia, who lives with his parents in West Newton, studies chemistry, plays clarinet in the symphony and plays trombone in the marching band at BC. He was last seen at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the Brighton bar Mary Ann’s at a BC Mardi Gras celebration. He attended the party with friends, including BC senior Katherine Corteselli, but they were separated during the course of the night. Garcia appears to have left the party alone, according to Corteselli, drunk though, “not smashed” and has not been seen since.

“While we have lost track of him when we’ve been out before, and sometimes we don’t hear from him during the week because he commutes from home, it is extremely out of his character for him to not go home or contact his family,” Corteselli told The Hoot. “All I know is that he left Mary Ann’s, a popular BC bar in Cleveland Circle, without me and my friends and did not tell us he was leaving.”

“It didn’t seem unusual that he didn’t leave at the same time as us, but we did notice that we didn’t see him specifically after around 12:30,” Rachele Reis, a BC senior who is in the marching band with Garcia, told The Boston Globe. “The bar was kind of crowded, big. We figured he was talking to somebody else, that he was on the other side of the bar.”

His disappearance was reported Feb. 23 to the Boston College police by Corteselli and to the Newton police by Garcia’s parents, Jose and Luzmila. The Garcia family became concerned after they were unable to reach their son at home, where he lives rather than the dorms; the family was vacationing in New York with their two other children. An aunt went to the house and could find no sign that Garcia had returned home.

“I first became alarmed about Franco’s disappearance on Thursday, Feb. 23, at around 2:30 p.m. when his mother called me saying that he had not been home,” Corteselli told The Hoot. “Prior to then I figured that Franco had just taken a cab home, which he has done in the past. When his mother called me, I instantly became worried because it’s not in his character to not go home. I immediately when to check if his car was still where he parked it Tuesday nights and to my dismay it was.”

The police—including Newton police, who are leading the case, and Boston, Boston College and Massachusetts State police—have been searching high and low for Franco, using missing-person signs; police dogs and police academy recruits to search wooded areas; police officers going door-to-door; aerial searches via helicopter; and sonar and divers to search in Chestnut Hill Reservoir, which is located between Mary Ann’s and the BC campus.

Police began searching the reservoir on Monday and searched for three straight days, finding nothing. They took a hiatus Thursday due to the inclement weather but plan to return today to continue searching the reservoir. Using a mixture of sonar and divers, the police are searching for any evidence of either Garcia or his possessions.

“This is just a logical place to search,” David Procopio, spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police, said at the reservoir Tuesday morning. “We put our state police divers in the reservoir yesterday. We’re also running a search by ground of the woods around here using dogs.” He continued, “His cellphone was pinged nearby here. There is no other reason why we are focusing on this area and nothing has developed. We are running this as a very vigorous and active investigation.”

Jose Garcia told The Globe: “If he’s not here, there’s more hope that he’s alive.”
Procopio has made it clear to media outlets that while foul play is not suspected in this disappearance, it has not been ruled out either.

“The last ping from his cellphone is from 1:17 a.m. and locates him around Moore Hall, a building on campus that is relatively close to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and surrounding area,” Corteselli said. “State police have come to search the reservoir with a sonar system and divers, and have not found anything.”

Police also searched the Garcia home on Tuesday hoping to find anything that could lead to Garcia’s whereabouts but came up empty.

Although Franco Garcia is a BC student, Brandeis students have had the opportunity to meet him. “Franco actually works at a CVS in Waltham pretty close to Brandeis (the one next to Wendy’s),” Corteselli said.

Additionally, Brandeis student Asya Bashina ’12 has a personal connection with Garcia. “Franco and I were in English class together in 10th grade at Newton North High School,” Bashina told The Hoot. “We did a lot of group projects together. We were not super close friends but we were friendly and we would occasionally sit together at lunch. He was a very sweet kid—he was amicable, caring and fun to be around. I haven’t spoken to him in a few years, however.”

Bashina found out that Garcia was missing through their mutual friends on Facebook. Since then, she has been posting missing flyers to Facebook in the hopes that someone will see it and be able to help find Garcia.

While the police are searching Newton, Brighton, BC and other areas, Garcia’s friends have taken the search to the Internet.

“The best way for the Brandeis community to get involved is with social media,” Corteselli told The Hoot. “We have made a Facebook group called ‘MISSING SINCE 2/21-Franco Garcia’ and a twitter account @FindFranco. We encourage everyone to share, like, forward, re-tweet, etc. about Franco to spread the word. This has helped so much.”

The Facebook group had more than 2,600 members at press time. Many posts on the Facebook page urge people to reach out to celebrities in order to spread the word about Garcia’s disappearance.

“Just this morning Bruce Springsteen (whose son is a senior here at BC) posted on Facebook and tweeted about Franco’s disappearance which has reached over two million people,” Corteselli told The Hoot.

Springsteen tweeted the message: “Help find Boston College student Franco Garcia. Last seen 2/22/12 in Brighton, MA. Call 617-796-2100 with any info.” The telephone number belongs to the Newton police.

By informing people about Garcia’s disappearance, Corteselli said, “We’re hoping that if anyone knows something or saw anything that night they will speak up. Cleveland Circle is very populated at night, so I truly believe that someone had to have seen something.”

“Newton police and BC police are talking to the young man’s friends,” Procopio told The Hoot. “His photo has been well-publicized. If the public sees him or has any info, they should call the police.”

“I would just advise people to keep their eyes open and alert,” Bashina said. “I’m sure he’s still alive, so just be on the lookout. My other advice is directed at the safety of Brandeis students: When you go out with friends, be aware of your surroundings and of your friends’ surroundings. Ensure the safety of yourself and your friends by walking with a friend late at night after a party, just to be safe.”

If the public has seen Franco Garcia or has any information pertinent to his disappearance, they are encouraged to call Newton police.