FREMONT, Mich. (WOOD) — A missing family from West Michigan was spotted earlier this week at a gas station in the state’s Upper Peninsula, nearly 300 miles from their home, police confirmed.
Anthony and Suzette Cirigliano, both 51, and their sons Brandon, 19, and Noah, 15, left their home Sunday.
They were seen Monday at the Blaney Park Quik Stop on US-2 near M-77, northeast of Manistique and about 70 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge. The Fremont Police Department says surveillance video confirmed it was the Ciriglianos.
Gas station manager Heidi Bowler told News 2’s sister station, WOOD-TV, they stopped for gas around 10:40 a.m. Monday. The mother and two sons came into the gas station convenience store to use the restroom. One of the sons asked to use a phone to make a call but didn’t know how to use it.
“He was acting a little strange, so we were just watching him,” Bowler said of the son who wanted to use the phone. “The only reason we paid attention to them is because the boys were a little different. I thought, ‘I wonder what’s wrong. Like, why is he using the phone? No one else is asking.’ It was just a little odd.”
They were there for about 15 minutes. Police said they gassed up and bought some food. Bowler said they arrived from the east and left headed back the way they came, toward the bridge.
Bowler said she was scrolling through Facebook Thursday night when she saw a post about the missing family.
“I looked at it and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that lady looks very familiar,’ and then once I looked at the boys, I was like, ‘Wow, they look familiar, too,'” she said.
She reviewed surveillance video at the gas station Friday morning.
“I immediately started the footage and I looked and I scrolled in on the license plate. It’s their license plate; it’s definitely them,” she said.
She called the police. Fremont PD says authorities in the UP have been notified of the sighting.
Bowler said they didn’t appear to be in danger and acted like a family on vacation.
“I don’t understand their whole story or whatever but I would be doing all I could if it was my family,” Bowler said.
Just after midnight Sunday, Tony Cirigliano called 911, saying he needed to talk to federal agents and a particular Fremont police sergeant about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and asking for police protection.
“It is related to September 11th and people want to erase me from the face of the Earth. I am not crazy. (Fremont police sergeant) knows me, I am a Christian, I just need some help, and then the U.S. government will take it from here,” he can be heard saying in a recording of the 911 call. “I know this sounds crazy, you don’t have instructions for this. Please send someone that knows (Fremont police sergeant) and can talk to the U.S. authorities, please.”
Officers went to the home and spent at least 45 minutes confirming everyone was safe. They told the Ciriglianos to call them again if they needed anything.
Then on Monday evening, Suzette Cirigliano’s mother, who has dementia and who the family cares for, was found wandering the neighborhood. That’s when the search for the family began.
Fremont Police Chief Tim Rodwell agreed the UP is a good place for someone who feels afraid to hide.
“There’s a lot of country up there. We really have no idea of what ties either one would have in that area,” he said Friday.
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Asked whether he believed the Ciriglianos were in danger, Rodwell said, “I think with the history of this paranoid behavior, I don’t really know how to answer the danger question.”
The family is in a silver 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan with Michigan license plate DJL1982. Anyone with information about them is asked to call the Fremont Police Department at 231-924-2400, Silent Observer at 231-652-1121 or 911. Rodwell also asked Tony and Suzette to call police or family.
Fremont is about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is home to about 4,500 people.
—WOOD-TV’s Madalyn Buursma and Kyle Mitchell contributed to this report.