FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – “It’s just torture wondering where your son was, what happened to him, who was involved. Did he suffer? I’m Monica Button and I am Nieko Lisi’s mother.”
The mystery started September 30th, 2011. 18-year-old Nieko Lisi left his hometown of Jasper, New York with a buddy in a truck they didn’t have permission to drive.
The first stop, Michigan where Nieko dropped off the young man then continued south to Tennessee, specifically Franklin, where he’d attended his junior year of high school.
“Nieko was always a very loyal friend to me, but he doesn’t know when to back down,” said a Franklin High School friend who chose not to share her identity publicly.
Button agreed, her second born’s wild streak worried her thoughts, “Someday he’s going to get in trouble with his attitude no matter how much we tried to correct him.”
But there was another side of her son she adored, “Nieko had a heart. He cared about people.”
Especially, his family and friends. “Nieko was my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were 8. Whenever I would call him, he would always answer. So it was very alarming that he wasn’t answering,” said Harley Durham.
“I have a young man who has been missing going on 10 years now, and he’s made no contact with loved ones,” said TBI special agent in charge, Nathan Neese. “There’s probably something sinister that has happened.”
According to Franklin Police, Nieko was last seen on Flintlock Drive, a residential street off of Liberty Pike. “There was a young man on Flintlock Drive who called me,” said Button, “and said that Nieko had been to his house on Saturday, October 1st, and that he had spent the night there, that they had gone to play soccer, and that Nieko walked back to his house and disappeared.”
That same afternoon, police said Nieko’s cell phone pinged from a Franklin cell phone tower for the very last time.
“I do know that people know things, and they’re not saying anything. I feel there is something in Franklin that is holding people back. I think people are fearful.” The same fear keeps this former Franklin High classmate from revealing her identity.
Nearly five years passed with no leads. Then in 2016, detectives found the 2004 GMC Canyon pick up Nieko was last seen driving. It was locked inside a Nashville garage of a home in Sylvan Park known in 2011 as a party house.
“It was found in what I call a chopped-up state. Only pieces of it were left,” said Neese.
“Is there a reason why the address isn’t being released?” News 2’s Alex Denis asked Neese.
He answered, “It’s part of the active investigation, and I don’t want to say that the truck was there because whoever was living there at the time is responsible. Hopefully, that puts them at ease knowing that I’m not just out here telling everybody and it makes them more comfortable to come forward to talk to us.”
“Do you believe this is a solvable case?” Denis followed.
“Absolutely. 100%. I’d go on to say, in my mind, this is not a cold case. This is an active investigation for me,” Neese continued, “I believe there are people in the community of Middle Tennessee, Nashville and Franklin specifically, that have information. I want them all to come forward.”
“I just pray that at this point in our lives that we all have closure,” said Durham though tears, “I could not imagine as a mother to not know where your child is.”
“Here we are in 2021, and I still don’t have answers. I don’t know what happened to my son. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what happened to my son, but you can bet your bottom dollar,” promised Button, “I will never go away.”
There is an $8,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the Lisi disappearance case. If you have any information, you’re asked to contact 1-800-TBI-FIND or email TipsToTBI@tbi.gov.
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