Emily is studying for a degree as a paralegal assistant. She is passionate about the justice system and initiating positive change.
Who Is Nieko Lisi?
Nieko Anthony Lisi was born in New York state and raised in the small township of Addison and Hornell. He is one of four children. Lisi was last seen by his family on September 30, 2011, and there has been no information that has led to an arrest in this case.
I have followed this case for several years now, and the truth seems to only get farther and farther away. I recently spent time digging through the facts of the case that are available to me, and it has only become more unclear to me. What could have actually happened to Lisi? I've decided to share the information that I have found in hopes that maybe someone else can make sense of this case, or that someone who knows more about this case will come forward.
For the sake of his mother and his family, I pray for answers to these questions so that they may bring Nieko home.
The Days Before His Disappearance
Nieko was a typical teenager coming of age in a small town. He spent a lot of time with a rather small group of friends. Not much is known of Nieko's last days, despite the attempts by police to interview the friends that knew him best and anyone who may know why Lisi vanished.
However, it is to be believed that, in the days leading up to Nieko's disappearance, he took part in planning a party that took place in a cabin that is owned by his grandparents. Female clothing was left behind at the cabin, and it looks to have been discarded due to the muddy conditions outside the night the party took place. A pair of pants and women's undergarments were found, but they were not DNA tested. The local police department in Addison, New York, attempted to interview all the teens believed to be at the party.
The last time Nieko was known to be seen alive was at his uncle's house. His [Nieko's] uncle has reported to police and family that Nieko and a friend, Robert Knight, came to his house on September 30, 2011, driving a GMC Canyon pickup, gold in color. His uncle states that Robert Knight told him that the pickup truck was his grandfather's, and the pair informed him they were heading to Buffalo, New York, to spend time with friends and maybe camp.
However, the pair were never known to have made it to Buffalo, the truck did not belong to Robert's grandfather, and this was the last time Nieko was ever seen alive by his family.
On October 1, 2001, Robert Knight suddenly appeared at his parents' house in Romulus, Michigan, an almost 7-hour drive from Addison. Knight stated to his family that Lisi had dropped him off and stolen his phone. Knight claimed he arrived at home in Michigan around 10 AM. As far as anyone knows, Lisi was never actually seen in Michigan.
At this time, Lisi's family were already growing concerned about the whereabouts of Nieko. His grandmother was able to contact him [Nieko] via his cell phone around 5 PM on October 1st. Lisi hastily answered the phone and told her he was unable to talk right now but he would call her back later. He was never spoken to again.
The Aftermath of Nieko's Disappearance
- October 3, 2011: A package came in the mail that contained Lisi's driver's license. It was received by Lisi's mother, Monica Button. Further investigation uncovered that the license had been found in the street outside the Hornell Post Office on October 1st. The post office is only about 15 minutes from Nieko Lisi's home in New York.
- October 5, 2011: Nieko Lisi is reported missing.
- October 8, 2011: Robert Knight was questioned by police in Michigan. Reports indicate that, during his interview, his actions led to investigators recommending that Knight undergo an immediate mental evaluation, which evidently led to Knight being hospitalized for the following days.
- October 9, 2011: Robert Knight was released from the hospital where he is believed to have been given a mental evaluation.
- October 10, 2011: Only 10 days after Lisi was last seen alive, Robert Knight was found dead by family members in Michigan at his parents' home. The cause of his death was believed to be a drug overdose.
In the days surrounding Knight's death, Lisi's Facebook account ominously disappeared, too—and his mother has been unable to recover it, even to this day.
Revelations From Cell Phone Data
According to Robert Knight, Lisi had stolen Knight's cell phone before he left him at his parents' house in Romulus, Michigan. Knight's cell phone account was owned by his grandmother, and she deactivated the account on the same day that Knight arrived in Michigan, after she learned that the phone had allegedly been stolen by Lisi. As far as I know, there was never any information recovered or traced from Knight's phone.
However, during the investigation, there was information that was able to be received from Lisi's phone. Lisi's phone last pinged on Flintlock Drive in Franklin, Tennessee. This probably seems like quite a shock; however, Lisi had apparently briefly attended high school in Franklin, Tennessee, and I assume he may have had some family and friends in the area.
Are There Answers in Tennessee?
Despite Nieko's mother's growing concern for her son and her persistence in finding answers that would bring her son home, police in Tennessee yielded no results. The interviews with friends and family in New York had not brought any new leads or persons of interest. However, Nieko's mother, Monica Button, continued to push and push to have more done.
Four years after Nieko disappeared, New York police traveled to Franklin, Tennessee, to look for answers. After only a few days, New York police located the truck that Nieko Lisi and Robert Knight had been traveling in the last time they were seen at Nieko's uncle's house.
The truck was uncovered in a private garage, and it was completely stripped down. However, the police came back to New York with no more information than that. The location where the truck was actually found was never released, and no arrests were made. It is unclear whether evidence was processed from the truck; if so, we are led to believe that the finding of the truck never led to any other leads regarding Nieko's disappearance.
Whose Truck Was It?
Remember how Nieko's uncle told police that Knight stated that the truck was owned by his grandfather? Police uncovered that Knights' grandfather didn't own a truck, and the GMC Canyon is believed to have been stolen from a man in Addison, New York. His identity has also never been released to the public.
Did Lisi and Knight steal the truck? Did this spark a getaway plan? Were they running from something?
What Really Happened?
Did Nieko really just leave New York? Why has he cut off all ties with his family and friends from New York? Why was his social media account deactivated? Is he okay? Were the mysterious circumstances surrounding Robert Knight's untimely death just a coincidence? Where is Nieko?
Is there anyone out there who can still answer any of these questions? His mother still has hope that Nieko will come home, one way or another.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Belle on November 10, 2019:
The path drawn on the map passes through Canada. I've never driven through the borders but i would expect there to be some documentation of them entering Canada and then the US again. Or cameras? Otherwise the path would be through PA and OH. Any tolls they would have had to pass? Rest stops, gas stations...