Seattle, WA

In 2008, a family man suddenly vanished. Two months later, his pregnant wife discovered a secret double life.

Fatim Hemraj
Christine Carter and Nicholas FranciscoPhoto byTwitter

Christine met Nicholas in art school. They fell in love and tied the knot in 2001. By 2008, they were living in Seattle with their two children, 4-year-old Zea and 2-year-old Noah — and expecting a third. Nicholas was an art director while Christine was a stay-at-home mom. She later stated that she thought she was living a fairytale life with the man of her dreams.

On February 13, 2008, everything came to a screeching halt and Christine found herself in the middle of a waking nightmare. Nicholas kissed her goodbye and left for work, promising to be home in time to make cookies with Zea. Excited, the little girl waited hours for her father to return home.

At 6 pm, Nicholas called Christine and told her he was on his way home but he never arrived. At 9, a concerned Christine put the kids to bed and report Nicholas missing. They told her it wasn’t illegal for an adult to go missing and insinuated that Nicholas must have taken off on his own.

Christine insisted there was no way Nicholas had walked out on her. Especially since his father abandoned his family when he was 16. Surely, Nicholas wouldn’t have followed in his father’s footsteps .

Family, friends, fellow churchgoers, and concerned members of the community quickly banded together in search of Nicholas and his employer even shut down their entire department to help. Christine received donations in the form of money and homecooked meals to feed her children as she spent day and night looking for her husband.
Nicholas and Christine with their childrenPhoto byTwitter

Six days later, a passerby found Nicholas’ car abandoned at an apartment complex yet there was still no sign of the 28-year-old and his phone was missing. Investigators attempted to get a hold of his phone records but were denied since there was no evidence a crime had been committed.

Cases of missing men don’t often garner a lot of media attention but Christine made sure that wasn’t the case for Nicholas. She kept his story alive by appearing on Nancy Grace and America’s Most Wanted. Despite this, weeks turned into months with no sign of the missing father.

With no leads, the police began to suspect that Christine herself had harmed Nicholas in an effort to scam the public for donations. She was interrogated at length and vehemently denied the accusations stating she didn’t care about money, she just wanted her loving husband back.

Nicholas’ supervisor at the marketing agency where he worked told the police he was in a good mood the day he disappeared, even cracking jokes with his colleagues. She allowed investigators to search Nicholas’ office and what they discovered shocked Christine to her very core: a condom receipt.

Christine insisted the cashier must have made a mistake. After all, she was pregnant after an entire year of trying to conceive, therefore the couple didn’t use condoms. But if that was the case, then why did Nicholas buy them and why didn’t the charge show up on their joint bank account?

Christine would soon learn that the father of her children was a deadbeat dad living a sordid double life. It turned out that Nicholas had been cheating on his wife since a year into their marriage.

Investigators discovered that Nicholas had profiles on multiple dating sites looking to meet men and women under the handles Fun Times Steve. For years, the couple had been struggling financially only for Christine to learn that Nicholas had been funneling money into a secret bank account used to take other women out while she thought he was working late.

Christine was finally cleared of any involvement in Nicholas’ disappearance but the damage was already done. He left her with thousands of dollars in student loan debt since she had co-signed for him and their house went into foreclosure, forcing Christine and her children to move into a crowded basement apartment. In May 2008, she filed for divorce on the grounds of abandonment and in November, she gave birth to their third child, a boy.

In April 2009, Christine happily married a church pastor and they had another child together. The mom of four had already moved on with her life when she received a call that shattered her world all over again.

One day in the fall of 2009, Christine was informed that she had a child support check. As it turned out, Nicholas was alive and well, living in California under his new legal name, Alex Martin. Unaware he would ever be caught, Nicholas decided to open a new bank account and of course, Washington State garnished his wages. He even had the nerve to ask for his money back before he closed the account and disappeared once again.

When news outlets published reports that Nicholas was very much alive and had simply abandoned his pregnant wife and kids, he wasn’t vilified — Christine was. On message boards, people asked what she had done to drive him away and wrote that she must have been awful to live with.

In 2010, a reporter tracked Nicholas down in Los Angeles and asked why he abandoned his family. Nicholas simply yawned and responded, “You know, it’s sad that I can’t be a part of that, but I don’t want to be around for the rest of that. When asked if he felt bad for friends, colleagues, and strangers who took time off to look for him Nicholas claimed it was simply a selfish deed to make themselves feel good. 15 years later, Nicholas Francisco aka Alex Martin hasn’t had any contact with his kids nor has he even met his third child.

Today, Christine Carter is a happily married mom of four, an accomplished author, mentor, artist, and small business owner living in South Carolina.

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