Missing family of 4 found safe in Wisconsin after they 'unexpectedly' left home last week

They left behind their pets and an elderly relative who requires full-time care

ByMorgan Winsor via ABCNews logo
Monday, October 24, 2022
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Michigan police announced they found the family of four who had been missing since Oct. 16 after the father exhibited "paranoid behaviors."

FREMONT, Mich. -- Michigan police announced they found the family of four who had been missing since Oct. 16 after the father exhibited "paranoid behaviors" last weekend, authorities said.

The Fremont Police Department said the family was found in Wisconsin.

Sunday's news follows a confirmed sighting that last placed them in Michigan's Upper Peninsula earlier this week, though police said they have no indication of where they might be traveling.

The family -- Anthony "Tony" John Cirigliano, 51, his wife Suzette Lee Cirigliano, 51, as well as their two sons, Brandon Michael Cirigliano, 19, and Noah Alexander Cirigliano, 15 -- "unexpectedly" left their house in Fremont, about 45 miles north of Grand Rapids, on Oct. 16, police said. The sons both have autism, authorities said.

The family's cellphones have all been turned off and they left behind their pets as well as Suzette's elderly mother, who has dementia and requires full-time care, police said. The grandmother, who lives with them, was found disoriented in the neighborhood on Oct. 17 and police were unable to reunite her with the family. She is now being cared for by other relatives, according to Fremont Police Chief Tim Rodwell.

"They're all very concerned that Tony and Suzette and the boys have not been in contact with anyone," Rodwell told Grand Rapids ABC affiliate WZZM.

Since announcing their search for the missing family, police have received over a dozen tips, Rodwell told reporters Friday. That includes a confirmed sighting at a gas station in Gulliver on Oct. 17, he said. The gas station manager contacted police saying she believed she had seen the family, which was corroborated by surveillance footage, Rodwell said.

The footage captured the four family members in the station buying food and fuel for the minivan shortly before 11 a.m. local time, police said. There was no indication where they might have been traveling, Rodwell said.

The search comes after police responded to the Ciriglianos' home shortly after midnight on Oct. 16 after Tony called 911 expressing concern about information he said he had about the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, according to Rodwell.

"My officers talked with him at length and just were concerned about his mental well-being," he said. "They made contact with Suzette and looked at the two boys to make sure they were OK."

Tony, who is self-employed, has no known mental health issues and police didn't find any signs of foul play, struggle or violence inside the home to indicate a suspicious disappearance, according to Rodwell, who told WZZM that he is worried about the family.

"Everyone describes [Tony] as an extremely loving father, dedicated to his family," the police chief added. "It's really been an all-hands-on-deck for the officers in Fremont."

Rodwell said the Ciriglianos do not have a history of run-ins with police, apart from an issue involving Brandon that occurred last summer in downtown Fremont. But Rodwell said the family was "very cooperative" and the matter was settled "amicably."

"My officers found Tony to be, again, very loving and caring and worried about his kid," he noted.

Both police and neighbors described the Ciriglianos' disappearance as "uncharacteristic" because the family is known to spend a lot of time at home and typically don't travel far when they do leave.

One neighbor, Sue Schondelmeyer, told WZZM that the Ciriglianos moved to the neighborhood about five years ago. Previously, the family lived in North Carolina, according to Rodwell.

"They were always friendly," Schondelmeyer said. "When I moved in, they brought me cookies."

"When my power was out, [Tony] helped with the generator to boost my power, my refrigeration and wouldn't even take money for the gas," she added.

Schondelmeyer told WZZM that she would always see the Ciriglianos out walking. Her grandchildren would often hang out with Brandon and Noah whenever they were visiting, she said.

"I realized I hadn't seen them this week," she added. "It is kind of scary to think that a whole family can just disappear with nothing."

As for the minivan the Ciriglianos are believed to be traveling in, Schondelmeyer said she only saw the vehicle for the first time a couple weeks ago. She recalled Tony had driven it home and Brandon and Noah were checking it out.

"That was the first and only time I've ever seen it," she told WZZM. "They usually had just plain cars, not a van."

Another neighbor, Josh Brinkman, told WZZM his family is friends with the Ciriglianos and that he goes to school with the two boys, whom he described as having "high-functioning autism." Brinkman said he hasn't hung out with Brandon or Noah in a while and that the last time he did, about two months ago, everything seemed "normal."

As for the boys' father, Brinkman said Tony is a "good guy" and has never shown any strange behavior, despite losing his job a few years ago. When asked if he has a message for the Ciriglianos, he urged them to "stay safe" and let their family and friends know if they're OK.

"We care about you," he added.