CLARE, Mich. (AP) — A simple Carfax report has led to the discovery of a car that belonged to a man who has been missing from the Saginaw area since 2011.

Eric Franks’ family had figured that the 2001 Chevy Malibu was destroyed or at the bottom of a lake. Instead, it was recently tracked to an owner in Clare, Michigan, who said he bought the vehicle from someone who had acquired it at an estate sale.

The vehicle could be a big break in the cold case.

“I can’t describe the emotions of walking around the corner and seeing that car,” Franks’ brother-in-law, Chad Baus, told “It was amazing to see the car and to see the condition it was in. It’s a shiny, 19-year-old car.”

State police took possession of the car Tuesday.

“It’s going to be processed,” Sgt. Joseph Rowley said. “Hopefully, that will unveil some sort of investigation lead for us.”

Franks was staying at a motel in 2011 when he was last seen. The 38-year-old had moved to Saginaw County from Ohio to be closer to his daughter and a former girlfriend.

Baus said a student in California who had watched a YouTube video about the Franks case ran a Carfax report, which reveals a car’s history.

The report showed that a new ownership title was issued by the state on Aug. 21, followed by an oil change in Clare, said Baus of Archbold, Ohio.

“It was the most extraordinary thing,” said Baus, who tracked down the car with his wife, Beth, after contacting the oil shop.

Baus said stains in the Malibu could be blood.

“I’ve kind of gotten used to the idea that we’re never going to get answers,” he said. “Obviously, finding the car, it’s just a huge piece of the puzzle that’s been missing.”

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