Nicholas was believed to have run away on his own since he had done that before, but he was never gone for more than a day. Nicholas' mother said that her son occasionally displayed aggressive behavior in 1994. Nicholas has a juvenile criminal record after he broke into a convenience store and threatened a teacher. His court hearing to determine his placement was set for June 14th, a day after Nicholas vanished. A possibility for Nicholas was for him to be placed in a group home which Nicholas opposed to.
In October of 1997, 3 years after Nicholas disappeared, authorities received a phone call from a young man in Linares, Spain, saying 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 was abused for years. Nicholas' sister flew to Spain to pick up the young man believed to be her missing brother and took him home to Texas.
Nicholas' parents believed the young man to be their son, but other people had their suspicions. The young man had dark brown hair & eyes and spoke with a French accent & European phrasing. The young man claimed that his abductors chemically dyed his hair and eyes, and that he picked up different speech patterns from living Europe for so long. The young man refused to give blood samples voluntarily or have his fingerprints taken to confirm his identity, plus he refused to name his abductors.
In February of 1998, the FBI got a court order to take the young man's fingerprints and the young man was later identified 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 various aliases. Bourdin pled guilty to passport fraud and perjury in 1998. After Frederic was exposed, he made several conflicting statements about Nicholas, claiming that he knew Nicholas in Spain and he was alive. He claimed he had proof that Nicholas was dead and later denied knowing anything about Nicholas at all.
Nicholas has never been located and his case remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected in his case and he may still be in the San Antonio, Texas area. Nicholas has tattoos of the letters "J" on his left shoulder, "T" on his left hand between his thumb & forefinger, and the letters "L" and "N" on his outer left ankle. He also has a gap between his front teeth. Nicholas's nicknames are "Nicky" and "Icky Nicky." He has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (or ADD).