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Missing actor's wife says family 'in limbo'

From Jonathan Wald

Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray

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Kathie Russo, wife of missing actor Spalding Gray, talks with CNN's Paula Zahn about her husband's mental health problems. (January 15)
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Spalding Gray
Long Island (New York)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The wife of missing actor-writer Spalding Gray said Thursday the entire family is "in limbo" after not hearing from Gray for five days.

"We're just waiting for a phone call that they've found him," Kathie Russo told CNN's Paula Zahn in a live interview.

Gray has attempted suicide several times since a 2001 car accident in Ireland in which he was severely injured. Reports that a Staten Island Ferry worker thought he saw Gray coming off the ferry Friday night have left Russo and Gray's older brother, Rockwell Gray, fearing that Friday's ferry ride was a "dry run" to prepare him for a suicide attempt, family friend and spokeswoman Sara Vass said.

Last September, Gray left a message at his Soho apartment in Manhattan saying goodbye to his wife and telling her he planned to jump from the Staten Island Ferry that day. Russo called police, who notified authorities on the ferry. A despondent Gray was found sitting on the ferry and escorted off the boat, according to Vass.

Russo said her husband's depression actually seemed to be lessening since September.

"We've seen an amazing improvement for him, where he was hopeful, he was getting back on stage, he was working on new material for the last three months," she said on "Paula Zahn Now."

Russo also said if her husband's disappearance is a suicide attempt, it differs from previous attempts.

"He's never done anything like this before. Where, you know his past suicide attempts, he left notes right away for me to see," she said. "And there's nothing, you know, this time."

Russo and Rockwell Gray are urging police to search the river and question passengers immediately, Vass said, but Sgt. Michael Wysokowski of the New York Police Department told CNN there are no plans to do so at this time.

"We have taken the report (from the Staten Island Ferry worker) into consideration, but it is speculative at this point," Wysokowski said. "He didn't say he saw him jump, he didn't say he tried to hurt himself, he just said he thought he saw someone who looked like him."

Gray is known for writing and starring in the autobiographical "Swimming to Cambodia" and appearances in films such as "The Killing Fields," "Beaches," "The Paper" and "Kate & Leopold."

The 62-year-old has a family history of depression but "it was a whole new ball of wax after the accident." Vass said. "Spalding has never been himself since the accident" and has subsequently received treatment for clinical depression at psychiatric hospitals.

Police said Gray was last seen at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at his Manhattan apartment but did not show up for a dinner appointment that evening or a scheduled flight to Colorado the next day.

The last time anyone heard from him was at 9 p.m. Saturday, when he called his Sag Harbor home and spoke with his 6-year-old son, saying he loved him and was on his way home.

Russo reported him missing at 7 p.m. Sunday, Wysokowski said.

She is staying at their other home in Sag Harbor on Long Island with their three children.

Russo said the only reason she agreed to the Zahn interview was to focus more attention on her husband's case.

"He was my best friend, and I want to spend more years with him. I want to find him and hopefully something will come out of this, and all the media coverage this week, for someone to call in and say, 'I know where he is,' or give us some kind of clue that will lead to him," she said.

Lt. William Armstrong of the South Hampton Town Police Department said Gray had been scheduled to fly to Colorado for a skiing vacation Saturday but his flight was canceled and he rescheduled for Sunday. According to Vass, "his packed bags are still sitting ready to go in the Soho apartment. He never took the flight." Vass said Gray left with $120 in his pocket but was not carrying his wallet, nor his credit cards. She added that this was usual.

New York police said Gray was last seen wearing a brown sweater, black corduroy pants, brown shoes, a gray jacket and blue scarf.

Frank Depaulo, the NYPD detective in charge of the investigation into Gray's disappearance, stressed police are continuing their search.

Vass said Gray's family is desperate.

"Our mission is to get him home -- ratchet up the investigation," Vass said. "There's a great deal of desperation about this. The kids are very upset, and his wife is beside herself. It's very difficult for everyone."

-- CNN's Vivienne Foley contributed to this report

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