Missing woman who was declared dead found 1,700 miles away from home decades later


A woman who was declared missing, and later dead, has been found decades after her disappearance, more than 30 years later.

Patricia Kopta was a devout Roman Catholic who lived in North Hills, Pittsburgh, US and was reported missing by husband Bob on 27 November 1992, months after her disappearance on 20 June 1992.

She was a ‘free spirit’, known for preaching and having spiritual visions, while telling strangers that the world was going to end in a nuclear war.

After reporting the case to the police, her husband said that it wasn’t unusual for Patricia to disappear for periods of time. But as she was soon classified as a ‘critical missing person’, as an urgent search was launched.

A poster released by the Pennsylvania Emergency Response Centre read: “Her family believes she took a flight to Puerto Rico after her disappearance and spent a week or two there before returning to Pittsburgh. She has not been seen or heard from since.”

After going completely radio silent, Bob – who never remarried – was worried sick, thinking that every body discovered by the police had a chance at being his wife.

He even began seeing a psychic and placed adverts in Puerto Rican newspapers, as she loved holidays in the territory prior to their marriage, according to her sister Gloria.

Seven years following her disappearance, the family got a legal declaration that considered her to be dead.

However, in 2023, there was to be a twist in the tale.

The 83-year-old was found alive and in a nursing home in the territory of Puerto Rico, 1,700 miles from home.

In June 1999, she was taken in as a ‘person in need’ after being found wandering aimlessly near the home.

Despite initially staying quiet about her past life, Patricia began to open up, with it soon being realised she had started to suffer from dementia.

A social worker figured out that she was from Pennsylvania, and so contacted the relevant authorities.

A DNA test would confirm that she was indeed Patricia Kopta, with Bob – who was 86 when news broke – saying he felt relieved at a press conference following the revelation.

“It’s a sad thing, but it’s a relief off my mind. When your wife goes missing, you’re a suspect.”

It is rumoured that her mental health began to deteriorate in 1984, and after losing her job she started to roam the streets.

She was also diagnosed with ‘delusions of grandeur’, with doctors suspecting she had schizophrenia.

Known as being ‘eccentric’, Patricia married Bob in 1972, but it has been theorised that she left her husband and the country behind when it was revealed that she might be institutionalised.

“After 30 years, you try to forget about it,” Bob answered at a press conference, when asked for a reason for his wife’s vanishing.

“Now, I can forget about it. We know what happened, and she is taken care of now. She could have come home any time. But that’s what she wanted. She always said she wanted to go to a warm climate.”

Her sister Gloria went straight to Puerto Rico after the DNA test came back positive to see her sister for the first time since 1992.

“We’re very thankful to know that Patty is alive and well,” Gloria said to WMTW.

“She’s being well taken care of. We really thought she was dead all those years. It was a very big shock to know that she’s still alive.”

Police reported that she told locals that she arrived on a cruise ship from Europe all those years ago, with the rest of her time spent on the island still a mystery.

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