July 18, 2024

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Pittsburgh woman, missing since ’92, found in Puerto Rico nursing home

Pittsburgh woman, missing since ’92, found in Puerto Rico nursing home


In 1999, social employees in Puerto Rico located a lady wandering the streets and took her into an adult care property. She spoke little about her life and in which she came from, a social worker later told law enforcement in Pennsylvania. But about the yrs, the woman started sharing much more particulars, authorities said past 7 days.

Individuals information led caregivers and investigators on a path to Ross Township, just north of Pittsburgh, and a decades-old missing-person situation. In 1992, Robert Kopta experienced noted his wife, Patricia, lacking. But investigators turned couple of leads, and the loved ones thought her useless.

Patricia Kopta was in point alive and living in the Caribbean, an Interpol officer and a team member from the Puerto Rican treatment dwelling advised the Ross Township Police Section in early 2022. They believed she was the lady initially taken into care in 1999.

On Thursday, Deputy Main Brian Kohlhepp of the Ross Township law enforcement announced at a news meeting that an investigation had confirmed that the girl in Puerto Rico was Patricia Kopta, concluding three decades of uncertainty for her loved ones.

“We didn’t be expecting it,” Gloria Smith, Patricia Kopta’s sister, claimed at the news meeting. “It was a extremely large shock to know that she’s even now alive.”

Robert Kopta and the Ross Township Law enforcement Office didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment Sunday evening.

Patricia Kopta, 83, worked quite a few careers but experienced turn out to be regarded in Pittsburgh as a road preacher, according to her spouse and children and studies from all around the time of her disappearance. Folks nicknamed her “the Sparrow” — “short and birdlike,” a Pittsburgh Publish-Gazette columnist wrote in 1998.

“She imagined she was executing God’s will,” Smith explained. “… She was just attempting to support individuals.”

Kopta struggled with mental wellness issues, according to Kohlhepp, and the handful of sales opportunities for police recommended she’d still left town by alternative. Smith stated at the information conference that Patricia experienced explained to a further a person of her sisters that she needed to depart her household and Pittsburgh out of concern of remaining institutionalized.

“She didn’t want us to come across her,” Smith reported.

Robert Kopta explained Patricia experienced very long expressed a drive to go to a warmer local climate. He suspected that Patricia had traveled to Puerto Rico and ran adverts in a nearby newspaper wanting for her with no achievement, he explained. For yrs, the loved ones anxious she’d switch up dead.

“It’s been unhappy,” Robert said. “Especially when it to start with transpired, each and every time someone observed a physique someplace [we’d wonder], ‘Was it Patricia? Was it Patricia?’”

The circumstance went cold for far more than 3 decades, when an Interpol agent in Puerto Rico contacted the Ross Township law enforcement in 2022 with information of the care facility’s suspicions. The female they believed to be Patricia experienced explained to the workers she’d arrived on a cruise from Europe, Kohlhepp claimed.

On investigating, police established the lead was credible and knowledgeable Patricia’s family members, in accordance to Kohlhepp. A DNA check, which took quite a few months to approach, confirmed her identification.

Patricia Kopta continues to be at the nursing household in Puerto Rico, Kohlhepp stated. Smith claimed she experienced identified as staff there many moments to look at on her sister but was told she could not communicate straight with Patricia because she has dementia.

“I hope I can get down to see her,” Smith stated.

Robert Kopta, who did not remarry, said he was happy his ordeal was in excess of. He informed the Connected Press that he doesn’t system to visit Patricia and that he’s attempting to overlook the past, but he’s happy she is remaining taken care of. At the information convention, he questioned once more why Patricia had remaining the household.

“That’s what she needed, I guess,” he explained.