A Pennsylvania woman who disappeared more than 30 years ago and was thought dead by her family was recently found living in a Puerto Rico nursing home, her family and police said at a press conference on Thursday.
Patricia Copta, 83, was last seen in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1992. missing person announcement This is reported by the Pennsylvania Emergency Response Center.
Her husband, Bob Kopta, reported her disappearance a few months later in the fall. He told authorities at the time that it was not uncommon for his wife to “disappear from view for short periods,” according to the leaflet.
“I came home one night and she was gone and no one knew where she was,” Kopta said at a press conference with Ross Township police.
Police said they first became aware of the missing woman’s discovery when an International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) agent and a Puerto Rican social worker contacted them last year and said they thought Patricia was living in a nursing home in Puerto Rico. Rico
“They told us she came into their care in 1999 when she was found needy on the streets of Puerto Rico,” Ross Deputy Village Chief Brian Kolhepp said.
Interpol and a social worker said Patricia was found wandering the streets and over the years she “refused to ever discuss her personal life or where she came from,” Kohlhepp said.
According to Kohlhepp, at an advanced age, Patricia began to discover nuggets, which eventually prompted those around her to contact the Ross police.
When she was in Pittsburgh, Patricia was a “famous street preacher,” according to a missing person flyer. According to the pilot, she approached strangers, telling them that she had visions of the Virgin Mary and that the world was coming to an end.
Police said her disappearance was not clearly suspicious because they “knew she had a history of mental health and was making statements to other family members that she was leaving, that she was concerned that she would be placed in a care facility here, Kolhepp said. Kohlhepp said police knew she likely left of her own free will.
Her husband said his wife talked about wanting to go to Puerto Rico to live in a tropical environment.
“I even advertised in a newspaper in Puerto Rico looking for her,” Copta said at a press conference, adding that he has spent a lot of money looking for her over the years.
Patricia and Bob were married for 20 years before she went missing, Kohlhepp told CNN. He added that Patricia had no known relatives or connections in Puerto Rico.
Police determined that the woman was in fact Patricia during a nine-month process in which they compared DNA samples provided by her sister Gloria Smith and her nephew.
“We really thought she was dead all these years,” Smith said at a press conference.
Even before the DNA testing was completed, the family knew it was Patricia as soon as they saw her picture, Kohlhepp said.
Smith said she called a nursing home in Puerto Rico several times but could not talk to her sister because she had dementia.
“We did not expect this. It was a very big shock to find out that she is still alive,” her sister said. “You know, we are so happy and I hope I can come down to see her.”
CNN was unable to contact the woman’s family directly.