Anthony Urciuoli left his Poughkeepsie, New York home around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, January 24, 2001. The 31-year-old, who lived with his parents, Anthony and Sandra Urciuoli, said that he was going to meet up with some friends to play pool. He said he would be back in a few hours, but when his parents woke up Thursday morning, they realized that Tony had never come home. He was never seen again.
Tony’s parents called the Poughkeepsie Police Department at 5:30 pm on Thursday and reported him missing. Family and friends immediately started searching the area for any sign of Tony or his gray Nissan Maxima. Around midnight, Tony’s uncle found the Maxima parked on Wilbur Boulevard, near Poughkeepsie’s Spratt Park. The vehicle was locked, and Tony’s wallet was found inside; there were no signs of a struggle in or around the Nissan.
Poughkeepsie Detective Jon Wagner thought it was possible that Tony had gotten into a car with someone else on the night he went missing. He noted the car “was locked as though Tony put it there and went with someone, but we don’t know that for certain.”
Police used K9 units to search the area surrounding where the car was abandoned, but they found no clues to Tony’s whereabouts. With no solid evidence of foul play, investigators couldn’t rule out the possibility that Tony had voluntarily disappeared. Those who knew him, however, were certain that he wouldn’t have walked away from his life.
Tony, who worked as a waiter at the Dutchess Diner in Poughkeepsie, had a large extended family and was well-known in the area. He was close with his parents and spent much of his time at work; he would often work seven days a week to help cover open shifts at the diner. He had a large circle of friends and was a regular at Shark’s, a pool hall in nearby Fishkill, New York.
Anthony was certain that foul play was involved in his son’s disappearance. Tony vanished just a few days before his mother’s birthday, and his father’s birthday was the following week. Tony had made plans to celebrate with both of them. The family also had a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada planned, and Tony had been looking forward to going. There was no way he would have walked away from his life.
Sandra told reporters that she and Tony had always had a great relationship. “We were all very close. We would go running, laugh, and spend lots of time together. He loved his family.” If he had been having any problems in his life, he would have said something to his parents. He simply wasn’t the type of person who would vanish without telling anyone.
Detectives interviewed Tony’s family members, friends, and co-workers from the diner. None of them were able to provide any clues about what might have happened to him. Poughkeepsie Detective Michael O’Dell noted, “Everyone said he never gave anyone problems. By all accounts, he was a hard worker, a responsible worker.” He had no reason to want to disappear.
Hoping to find some clues in Tony’s background, detectives interviewed everyone he had been associated with for the past decade. They combed through his bank and phone records and checked for any activity on his credit cards. All activity stopped on the night he went missing, and they found nothing in his past to help explain his disappearance.
According to Tony’s parents, he had gotten home from work around 9:30 pm that Wednesday night and hadn’t mentioned any plans to go anywhere. Around 11:00 pm, he received a page from someone; he then got changed and said he was going out to play pool. Investigators were unable to find any record of him getting a page, however, and it was unclear who Tony had planned to meet. Although he told his parents he was going to play pool, no one could recall seeing Tony at Shark’s pool hall that night.
Two weeks after Tony was last seen, his parents announced that they were offering a $10,000 reward for information regarding his whereabouts. Police admitted that they had no leads in the case, and Anthony and Sandra were hoping the reward announcement would bring in some new tips. His uncle, Jerry Gretzinger, noted, “The family is still holding out hope. It’s been very hard. It’s not like Anthony to leave without telling anybody where he’s going.”
Months went by without any progress on the case. By August, Tony’s family was growing increasingly desperate for some word about the missing man. Anthony told reporters that the situation was a parent’s worst nightmare. “I’m in denial. The nights are rough. I would sooner not be born than to go through what I’m going through.”
Anthony hired a private investigator to assist in the search for his son, but there were few tips in the case and no substantial leads were developed. Detective Wagner acknowledged that the family was frustrated with the investigation. “We have not given them their son. There’s nothing short of giving them their son that the department can do that would satisfy the family.”
Although investigators initially had a flood of tips in Tony’s case, after a few weeks the phone calls slowed down. Detective Wagner admitted that they still had no idea what had happened to the missing man. “We’re not any closer to knowing where Tony is today than we were on January 24.”
Since there was no evidence suggesting whether or not Tony had gone missing voluntarily, Detective Wagner said he was running two parallel investigations, “one based on the theory Tony is alive and well and left voluntarily, and the other that he may have encountered foul play.” Unfortunately, he had been unable to uncover any evidence to back up either of the two theories.
Tony’s father was certain that foul play was involved in his son’s disappearance but remained optimistic that he was still alive. “Right now my mission is to find my son alive and well. I think someone he trusted entrapped him with some kind of scheme.”
As the first anniversary of Tony’s disappearance approached, Detective Wagner told reporters that there had been no movement on the case. “There’s really nothing new. We have a lot of leads. We continue to follow leads and subpoena records.”
For Tony’s father, it had been the worst year of his life. “It’s never, never, never, never over. I wake up at one o’clock in the morning, at three o’clock in the morning, saying, ‘Is this a dream?’ I’m about ready to make a career of finding out what happened.”
In February 2002, Tony’s parents appeared on “The Montel Williams Show” to discuss their son’s disappearance. The show arranged to have a psychic do a reading for them; the psychic claimed that Tony was dea*d and his body had been dumped in a river somewhere. His father tried to remain positive. “It’s my belief somebody can help find out where Tony is or what happened to Tony. Unfortunately, we’re no closer today than we were a year ago. We want to get closure for the family, but we’re not there yet.”
Anthony was a guest on “The John Walsh Show” in October 2002. As he discussed his son’s case, he announced that the family was increasing the reward they were offering for information to $50,000. This brought in a flurry of tips, including several potential sightings of Tony. One caller claimed that Tony was working as a taxi driver in White Plains, New York, while another swore that the missing man could be found working at a cannery in Alaska. Detective Wagner followed up on each tip, but determined that each was a case of mistaken identity.
Two years after Tony was last seen, his parents continued to search for him daily. His mother noted that they had left his bedroom untouched in the hopes that he would soon be home to use it. “We’re praying to God that he comes up the driveway.”
Although investigators tried to assure the family that there was no evidence Tony had met with foul play, Sandy knew her son wouldn’t have abandoned his family. “I just feel in my heart it was violence…he would have called.”
As they prepared to mark the third anniversary of Tony’s disappearance, his parents announced that they were once again increasing the reward they were offering for information. They were now willing to pay $100,000 to anyone who could lead them to their son. “Somebody knows what happened to Tony. This wasn’t an alien abduction.”
Investigators admitted that, despite following up on more than 200 potential leads, they were no closer to determining what had happened to Tony after he left his home for the last time. Detective O’Dell told reporters, “There’s no concrete evidence either way. You can make a case that he’s de*ad and you can also make a case that he decided to run from something.” He felt bad for the Urciuolis. “I sympathize with the family. It would tear me up if it were my son.”
Like Tony’s parents, Detective O’Dell was certain that there was someone in the area who knew exactly what had happened to the missing man. “It’s a mystery, but someone can unravel it. If he’s de*ad, somebody killed him. If he ran, somebody helped him.” Tony had left his wallet, which contained cash, in his car and there had been no activity on his credit cards or bank account. If he were alive somewhere, he had to have some means of financially supporting himself.
Friends and family members held a candlelight vigil at Spratt Park on January 25, 2004; despite frigid temperatures, more than 60 people gathered to sing hymns and pray for Tony’s safe return. His family hoped the vigil would raise awareness about the fact that Tony was still missing; they made a public plea for anyone with information to come forward and speak with investigators so they could finally have some closure.
Anthony admitted to reporters that he had spoken to nearly a dozen psychics about his son’s disappearance, and they all agreed that Tony was de*ad. Each one told him some version of the same scenario: Tony had been tricked into leaving his house that night and met up with someone who killed him and then dumped him into a body of water. None were able to pinpoint the exact location or give any information about who the killer was.
In November 2004, Tony’s family placed an ad in local newspapers with information about the reward they were offering for information leading to his recovery. His sister, Lisa, noted, “There are so many people hurting since my brother went missing. I think we’d know more now if the media had taken an interest, but they don’t seem to care. We have no closure, just an empty seat at the dinner table.” The family believed that Tony’s case got little media coverage because he was male; their ad was titled, “Would it matter to you if our son had been a daughter?”
Friends and family continued to gather in Spratt Park each January to hold a candlelight vigil on the anniversary of Tony’s disappearance. In 2006, Anthony pleaded with the crowd to help them contact public officials concerning his son’s case. “Only in that way can something be done, because it’s not fair that when a guy goes missing, nothing is done to find him.”
Poughkeepsie Lt. Kent Linderholm told reporters that the department still received occasional leads about Tony, and they followed up on each one. His dental records were kept on file and were checked against each unidentified body that was found but there were never any matches. Lt. Linderholm admitted that he was surprised that the offer of a $100,000 reward had failed to bring in any credible tips. “We’re a small community…you’d think someone would respond.”
Anthony told reporters that he still hoped his son would one day return home. “I believe he’s still alive…that’s how I get by. My wife feels it’s foul play and so does my daughter. But I can’t get by without believing.” He was frustrated that Tony’s disappearance hadn’t received much publicity. “I spoke to the state police last week and they said that they didn’t know anything about it. I spoke to the town police and they said that the case still remains open.” Unfortunately, there had been no new leads in years and investigators admitted that the case was growing colder.
In 2011, Detective Rocco Cordato admitted that the case was a frustrating one. “When he disappeared, there weren’t a lot of witnesses.” Investigators had never been able to confirm who Tony had gone to meet on the night he vanished; no one ever came forward to say they had been with him that night. “The older the case is, the harder it gets to follow up. With time, people pass. People forget. Memories are often short.”
As years went by, it got harder for Tony’s family to remain positive. Anthony admitted, “Nothing in this world brings me to my knees and humbles me quite like this. I will remember him until the day I die.” Sandra was more optimistic. “There are people who are found 10 to 15 years after they have been lost. There is always hope.”
Anthony Guy Urciuoli, Jr. was 31 years old when he went missing from Poughkeepsie, New York in January 2001. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance are murky and investigators have no idea exactly what happened to him. Tony has black hair and hazel eyes, and at the time of his disappearance, he was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a black puffy down jacket. If you have any information about Tony, please contact the Poughkeepsie Police Department at 845–485–3666.