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Regina police distributed a missing person notice about Terry Sagal, who's been missing since Dec. 18, 2001. ((Regina Police Service))

Almost eight years after Terry Sagal left his Regina home for what was supposed to be a brief shopping trip, the mystery of his disppearance continues to baffle police and his family.

Did someone kill the 54-year-old husband and father? Or did he simply take off with the plan of starting a new life elsewhere? No one knows for sure.

Although police say no hard evidence has been found to suggest foul play, there are some relatives, including his brother Mike Sagal, who believe otherwise.

"I think he was murdered in Regina for the vehicle and thrown in a dumpster," Mike said. "A few other of my family members believe the same thing."

The events of the last day he was seen shed little light on the mystery.

On Dec. 18, 2001, Sagal left the home he shared with his wife after telling her he was going to buy some liquor for a special cake he was baking. There was also a stop to get gas, bank records showed.

Two days later, Sagal's 1982 Mercury Marquis was found abandoned in the village of Kennedy, about 150 kilometres southeast of Regina.

The car provided few leads to police. Any footprints that might have been found at the scene were covered by snow. Searches were conducted by air, by foot and even on horseback, but the trail went cold.

Sagal is now one of 33 cold cases being investigated by the Regina Police Service.

Sgt. Brent Shannon, the lead officer on the case, said investigators have explored several avenues, including foul play and suicide.

Police are also looking at the possibility that Sagal chose to disappear.

"Certainly, when you're comparing his case to some of the other long-term cases, [it's] much more plausible," Shannon said.

"I think because of his intelligence, his experience, his background, his ability to pick up and start over would far exceed that of maybe some of the other folks that we would compare against."

However, Mike Sagal said what he knows about his brother and the events of December 2001 suggests foul play is more likely.

The fact the car was found far from Regina is significant, he said. Shortly before he disappeared, Terry told family he couldn't drive to Moose Jaw for his sister's birthday because he was worried his car wouldn't make it.

Terry always had his car radio set to CBC, but when the car was found, it had been switched to another station, he said.

Before he disappeared, Terry had been working as a musician and an actor, doing locally produced commercials and performing with the Regina Little Theatre, Mike said.

He liked cooking, gardening and music and although not living a conventional 9-to-5 life, he was a creature of habit. For him to just take off doesn't make sense, Mike said.

Instead, he wonders if someone out there is carrying a heavy secret.

He said he'd like answers, but as a parent, he's been forced to focus on his own family and move on.

"I've actually found it's best not to think about it because it gets frustrating at times," he said.