Canon City, CO

When a Special Agent Vanished 18 Years Ago, His Wife’s Story Quickly Fell Apart [With Source & Unseen Photos]

Fatim Hemraj

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Gene and Lynn FrancisColorado Springs

An only child, Eugene Francis Fish, commonly referred to as Gene, was born in Upstate New York to his parents, Bill and Agnes. He graduated from Siena College and went on to have a successful career, first as an Air Force pilot and then as a Federal Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

On February 18, 1997, Gene and his girlfriend of four years Lynn tied the knot in Las Vegas. In January of 2003, he retired and the couple purchased a home on South T-Bar Ranch, a gated community in rural Cañon City, Colorado. Soon, they began construction of a second home on their 35-acre property. Less than a year later, Gene suddenly fell off the face of the earth.

A Retired Federal Agent Goes Missing

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Eugene Francis FishProvided to the author by Dr. Faith Leibman

On June 20, 2004, Gene called Bill to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Sadly, it would be the last conversation the father-son duo would ever have.

On June 29, Lynn made a disturbing call to her in-laws, birthing a mystery spanning nearly two decades. She claimed an enraged Gene smashed his computer to bits, sliced up his credit cards, and took off in his red 2000 Ford F-150 pick-up truck following a heated argument on June 21.

Lynn claimed that the truck reappeared inside their rural gated community two days later with no sign of Gene but it would have taken two people just to drop it off — one to drive the truck there and another to pick the driver up.

Lynn told Bill that his son was unhappy with his retirement and angry over construction costs. She said the 54-year-old told her he “knew how to disappear” and that he was going to Mexico or South America to “get away.”

After speaking with Lynn, Bill contacted Gene’s college friend, New York Police Officer Chuck DeLuca, and shared his concerns regarding her story.

Acting oblivious, Chuck called Lynn and asked to speak with Gene. She said he couldn’t come to the phone because they were working on a rock wall. She also told Chuck that Gene wouldn’t be able to join him in a golf tournament the pair had planned to attend together because he was going to Mexico.

On September 1, 2004, Chuck reported Gene missing.

A Brief Timeline: 2004 and Onwards

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South T-Bar Ranch is a very rural, gated community and hunting property — the closest paved road is 10 miles from the gateColorado Springs

June 20, 2004: Gene called his father to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Gene complained about the cost of construction work and some computer problems he was having. He made plans to visit his parents the following month.

June 21, 2004: Bill received an email from Gene. The contents haven’t been disclosed and it’s unclear whether it was Gene who actually wrote it.

June 28, 2004: Lynn transferred $42,000 from two joint bank accounts into an account solely in her name and used it to pay off her credit card debt.

June 29, 2004: Lynn told her in-laws that Gene took off.

July 21, 2004: Lynn filed for divorce. A judge granted her conservatorship of Gene’s estate which included a $500,000 inheritance, land, investments, a truck, and a tractor. She continues to receive his $4,700 monthly pension.

July 26, 2004: Lynn had a new mattress delivered to the home. The delivery men told investigators they never hauled off an old mattress.

July 27, 2004: Chuck DeLuca spoke to Lynn on the phone. He said she appeared to be nervous and was “out of breath.”

September 1, 2004: Chuck DeLuca reported Gene missing.

September 2, 2004: Authorities paid a visit to the Fish home. They spoke with Lynn but were not allowed to conduct a search without a warrant.

September 7, 2004: Lynn agreed to take a polygraph test. Two days later, she hired an Attorney who sent investigators a letter ordering them to cease all contact.

2005: Bill and Agnes Fish hired a PI to find out what really happened to their missing son. They spent nearly $100,000 on the investigation.

May 2007: Bill filed a wrongful death suit against Lynn alleging she harmed Gene.

May 19, 2007: Bill passed away at the age of 89. He suffered from cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The wrongful death suit was dismissed due to his death.

October 8, 2009: Agnes passed away. She suffered from Dementia.

December 2011: Lynn sold the home on South T-Bar Ranch for $249,000.

The Search Warrant

A search warrant was not retained and/or executed until two years after Gene’s disappearance — long enough for any evidence to be destroyed.

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A copy of the search warrant executed at the Fish homeProvided to the author by Dr. Faith Leibman

Among the evidence seized from the Fish home was a metal box containing Gene’s birth certificate, and passport along with letters and money.

Investigators also seized a computer tower, an envelope containing a disk, a Wiccan databook, Lynn’s Will, 4 knives, a computer, Gene’s bank statements, and 3 blood samples.

Authorities have not revealed to who the blood belongs.

After Gene Disappeared, Lynn’s Story Kept Changing

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Eugene Francis FishProvided to the author by Dr. Faith Leibman
  • When Gene’s truck reappeared, Lynn told authorities the key was in the ignition. During a police interview on June 16, 2005, she stated there were no keys found with the vehicle at all and that she had to use a spare key.
  • Lynn told Gene’s father, Bill, that the truck’s CB radio was found completely obliterated. She later told investigators it never had a CB radio, to begin with, despite the fact it had an exterior CB antenna.
  • Lynn originally claimed Gene took $8,500 with him when he left. This amount later changed to $20,000.
  • Lynn told neighbors Gene went back to New York. She told Chuck he went to Mexico. She told others he went to “start fresh somewhere else.”
  • In 2003, Lynn told her father-in-law Gene hit her. During her deposition in the conservatorship proceedings, Lynn testified Gene had “never struck” her.
  • Lynn told investigators that Gene and his father argued during their last phone call on June 20, 2004. Bill contests this claim.
  • Investigators found several firearms in the barn. Gene was an avid hunter. Despite this, Lynn claimed she had no knowledge of their existence. She said she was “too scared” to touch a firearm but Bill recalled a conversation he had with Gene shortly before they moved to Cañon City. Gene told him he gifted her one and even taught her how to use it.
  • When investigators visited Lynn’s property in 2005, they found two recently landscaped areas covered with rocks and gravel. Lynn said she had buried two dogs. Her vet confirmed that although one of her dogs had died in 2004, it had been cremated.
  • Lynn resisted investigators' efforts to search their property. She refused to provide a blood sample and quickly hired an attorney. Despite this, she sent a letter to the Gazette in 2007 claiming she had been “100% cooperative” with the investigation into Gene’s disappearance.

Friends Say Gene Was in a Troubled Marriage

By all accounts, Gene was something of a ladies' man. He had relationships with various women, never settled down for long, and wasn’t particularly keen on marriage. Knowing this, close friend and ex-girlfriend, Dr. Faith Leibman was surprised when she received a call from Gene in the late 90s; he was now married and unhappy about the state of his relationship.

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Dr. Faith Leibman and Gene FishProvided to the author by Dr. Faith Leibman

Dr. Faith Leibman wasn’t the only one Gene confided in.

Another ex-girlfriend, Joyce Shirley, claimed Gene called her in 98' and vented about his marriage, stating he had made a mistake.

Gene was incredibly close with his parents and he called them every Sunday. He commuted 8-hours just to see them for the weekend while stationed in Philadelphia and he continued to visit even after he moved to Cañon City.

In April of 2004, Gene traveled alone to New York to visit his parents for an entire month. When college friend, Larry Durkin asked Gene why he was visiting for a month rather than his usual weekend trip, Gene said he was having marital problems with Lynn, “Wherever I go, she’s calling me every 10 minutes to find out where I am. It’s been going on for a while.”

In an email to me, Dr. Faith Leibman shared her belief that Gene was blackmailed, perhaps even into marriage, and killed. She believes Lynn threatened to expose the fact Gene had secretly fathered two illegitimate children, one being the child of a woman who was in a relationship with a close friend of his at the time, when he brought up divorce. Lynn herself said she “found evidence of 3 to 4 illegitimate children” after he vanished and several accounts agree he fathered at least one daughter.

Author’s Note

While much of this is circumstantial evidence, Lynn’s behavior following Gene’s disappearance didn’t seem to be that of a concerned wife and she has since contradicted many of her own statements.

While it’s certainly possible Gene left voluntarily, he never accessed his bank account, his passport has never been used and he left his cellphone behind. It seems unlikely that he would have abandoned everything and everyone just a day after making plans to visit his ailing parents who he loved so dearly. Did construction costs and an unhappy marriage really lead Eugene Francis to disappear and “start fresh” or is something much darker at play?

At the time of his disappearance, Gene was 5'11" and 190lbs with blonde hair and blue eyes. One of the fingers on his left hand is crippled. If you have any information, contact Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at 719-276-5550.

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