LIMA — Family, friends and law enforcement officials have been relieved to know that Viva Maria pizza shop owner Dominic Fricano has been located.
Dehydrated and confused, 55-year-old Fricano called his wife, Susan Fricano, from Arizona on Saturday after he had been missing for 15 days. Authorities from Cottonwood, Ariz., were sent to check on him and he was located. Susan Fricano then took a flight there to meet her husband Sunday. The couple will then return to Lima, and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office will continue investigations and interviews to begin to piece together what had happened.
“Getting the call was just a blessing,” said his 18-year-old son, Giuseppe Fricano, who was working at the Lima Mall restaurant over the weekend.
He said going to Arizona might have somehow made sense for his father.
“Mom thought he would go to Arizona. That was his favorite place. Of all the places he’s lived, he liked it there the most. So, for some reason, it would make sense if he had memory impairment, the last thing he might remember is Arizona,” he said. “In his mind, only a few days have passed. Like, two days. He’s more or less OK. He’s just confused, clearly.”
Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish spoke with Dominic Fricano and his wife over the phone, and said they will try to find out more once they return.
“As soon as he gets back, the detective bureau will meet with him and try to find out what happened. We don’t know anything as to why he left or even what really happened,” Crish said. “The only thing I was worried about [during the phone conversation] was his safety.”
Fricano had been missing since Nov. 30, when he left the Viva Maria pizza shop before the lunchtime rush. Friends and family did not see or hear from him again until Saturday.
During the two weeks Fricano was missing, friends had organized several search parties, and a Facebook group called “Search for Dominic Fricano” was created, which boasted more than 11,000 members on Sunday. Family friend Tammi Brown, whose daughter works at Viva Maria, was behind many of the Facebook updates and search parties.
“Heavy hearts are now lifted,” she said in a message on Sunday. “This is a true Christmas Miracle!”
“There have been so many people that have been reaching out,” Giuseppe Fricano said. “It’s beautiful how many people care.”