Officials search for family of man found dead on side of road

A body found on the side of Spooner Summit on Aug. 10 has been identified, but officials are no closer to finding the man's next of kin.

An autopsy revealed that Nathan Israel Frank, 79, died in his sleep of natural causes at least two days before a motorist spotted his remains in a ravine on the northbound side of Highway 50 West, halfway between Carson City and Spooner Summit.

According to Alan Glover, administrator and clerk recorder for Carson City, all he knows about Frank is his name, date of birth and date of death. After that the leads have dried up.

At first glance when his body was found, Frank's situation appeared to be typical of any number of transients who make their home in the wilderness surrounding the capital city. He was lying on a plastic tarp laid out like a bed. His head rested on a bunched up blanket. Surrounding the tarp were plastic grocery bags containing balled up plastic grocery bags and other odds and ends. A backpack and spare shoes were found nearby.

But when detectives arrived on scene to investigate, a California senior citizen identification card that expires in 2013 was found in his pocket. The picture showed Frank with a neatly trimmed white hair, mustache and goatee. He wore a pressed flannel shirt and a slight smile.

He looked like he could be somebody's father, said coroner Ruth Rhines. He did not look like a man who would die alone in his sleep alongside an interstate highway, she said.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, senior citizen ID cards are valid for 10 years. That, along with the listed street address in Palmdale, Calif., would indicate that in 2003, Frank wasn't a transient.

Something else was atypical about Frank's remains as well.

In the pocket of his shirt, police found $1,300 in cash. The following day, at the morgue in Reno, a pathologist discovered another $330 in the pocket of his blue jeans.

In Frank's wallet, Glover found a card with a phone number that stated it was from "brother." But when he called the number in Pennsylvania, he was told that they were not blood related.

"He said they were just brothers in Christ. He'd picked (Frank) up one day along the freeway in Pennsylvania two years ago. And (Frank) kept his card," Glover said. "Nathan told the man that he'd pretty much been a hobo for 50 years."

With his authority as administrator, Glover allowed the mortuary to cremate Frank's remains. They will be stored for at least a year before Glover decides what to do with them if no family is found. State law dictates that in the event no next of kin is found, any money belonging to Frank, less the cost of cremation, will go into the State of Nevada Permanent School Fund established in 1956.

In the interim, Glover said, he will keep searching.

After finally getting a death certificate issued, Glover will send it off to the Social Security Administration and obtain Frank's number. That should help to unravel the mystery of his past, he said.

"There's information on him tucked away somewhere," Glover opined. "I've just got to pry it out of somebody."

Anyone with information on Nathan Israel Frank is asked to call Glover at 887-2260.

- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

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