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Nicholas was last seen playing basketball with friends in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas on June 13, 1994. He called home and wanted his mother to pick him up, but she was asleep and Nicholas's older brother refused to wake her. He never returned home.
Authorities initially believed Nicholas left of his own accord. He had done so before, but never for more than a day. His mother stated that he occasionally hit and cursed at her, and the police were often called to the residence in response to arguments. His mother had had her brother move into their home in an effort to keep her son under control. Nicholas was frequently truant and got into trouble when he did attend school. He has a juvenile criminal record; he broke into a convenience store, stole a pair of shoes and threatened a teacher. The sentencing hearing was set for June 14, the day after he vanished. One possibility was placement in a group home, and Nicholas was very opposed to this.
On September 25th, Nicholas's older half-brother called the police and said he thought he saw Nicholas trying to break into the family's garage. Nicholas fled when he realized his brother had seen him. The police searched the neighborhood, but couldn't find him. They don't believe Nicholas's brother had in fact seen him, and neither does their mother.
Law enforcement officials received a phone call from a man at a youth shelter in Linares, Spain in October 1997, over three years after Nicholas's disappearance. The caller said that Nicholas was living at the Spanish shelter after escaping from a child sex ring operation. The man said that the person believed to be Nicholas had been abused for years. Nicholas's sister flew to Spain, identified the person as her brother, and brought him back to Texas.
The fingerprints identified the man as Frederic Pierre Bourdin, a 23-year-old French citizen who was posing as Nicholas. Bourdin has a criminal history in Europe and has used many aliases. He pleaded guilty to passport fraud and perjury in 1998, admitting that he had posed as Nicholas after getting the missing boy's information from a missing child center. After Bourdin was exposed, he made several contradicting statements about Nicholas: he claimed he had known Nicholas in Spain and that the boy was alive, he claimed he had proof that Nicholas was deceased, and later he denied having ever met Nicholas at all and stated he knew nothing about the case. He was sentenced to six years in prison, more than three times what the sentencing guidelines suggested, because of the harm he caused the Barclay family.
After Bourdin's identity was discovered, police began investigating Nicholas's family for possible involvement in his disappearance. His mother was addicted to heroin in 1994, but she went into recovery after he vanished. She passed one polygraph about Nicholas's case, but failed the second one. Nicholas's brother developed a drug problem after his disappearance and he died of a cocaine overdose later in 1998. He had been considered a possible suspect in his brother's disappearance, and with his death the investigation stalled.
Nicholas has never been located and his case opened 2018 by Psychic Brian Ladd. He may still be living in the San Antonio area. While many agencies continue to classify him as a runaway, foul play is possible in his disappearance.