American Woman Missing For 31 Years Found Dead in Puerto Rico


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Kopta wandered around northern Puerto Rico for a while before being taken in by a seniors’ residence as a ‘needy’ person.

Authorities declared a Pennsylvania woman legally dead after she disappeared over 31 years ago in a case that baffled them. She was found living in a nursing home in Puerto Rico.

Patricia Kopta left her husband and siblings and wandered around northern Puerto Rico for a while before being taken in as a “needy” person to a nursing home in 1999, according to details revealed by Ross Township police at a news conference.

Known as a street preacher in her hometown, Kopta initially kept her past a secret while in Puerto Rico. However, as she suffers from dementia, the American began to reveal personal details.

Her husband, Bob Kopta, and her 78-year-old sister, Gloria Smith, provided details of Kopta’s life at the news conference and in Friday phone interviews with the Associated Press.

Patricia Kopta was nicknamed “The Sparrow” for her slender build. Before disappearing, the American frequented parking lots and busy roads in the predominantly residential community of about 31,000 inhabitants north of Pittsburgh, warning passersby and drivers about the end of the world.

But before she started preaching, Kopta was an excellent student who became a model and dance instructor. After graduating from high school, she worked in finance at a Pittsburgh glass company and attended weekly ballroom dancing events.

Before getting married, she used to vacation in Puerto Rico with her friends. “He loved the sea, the beach, the warm sun,” Smith told the AP.

Smith added that her sister left her job at the glass company after 10 years due to migraines that doctors attributed to stress. Kopta then took a job as an elevator operator at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

As a result, Kopta began preaching and was briefly committed to an institution after doctors diagnosed her with schizophrenia and delusions of grandeur. Once released, she continued to preach until she disappeared in 1992.

“I came home one night and she had just left,” said Bob Kopta.

The disappearance left the authorities and the family perplexed and the police even consulted a medium. Later, Kopta’s husband recalled that his wife once mentioned that she would like to go to Puerto Rico because of the mild climate, so he placed advertisements in Puerto Rican newspapers, but never got a response.

Years passed with no sign of her. Kopta obtained a death certificate about seven years after his wife disappeared.

“I’ve been through a lot,” said Bob Kopta, who is a retired truck driver. “Every time they found a body somewhere [I asked myself], ‘Is this Patricia? Is it Patricia?’”

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