Patricia Kopta was married to her husband for more than 30 years. He believed she had died after she disappeared in 1992. Police were desperate to find her and even sought out a psychic. Officials said they found no evidence of Patricia Kopta.
Despite a desperate search, Kopta wasn’t found. She was officially declared legally dead in the late 1990s.
“Every time they’d find a body somewhere (I wondered), ‘Is it Patricia? Is it Patricia?’” said her husband Bob Kopta, a retired truck driver who never remarried.
She was still alive, and she is being cared for in an adult home in Puerto Rico. Police in Ross Township, Pennsylvania said this at a press conference last Wednesday.
“I’ve been in law enforcement 22, 23 years, and it’s so rare to have a successful resolution in a missing person case from decades ago,” Deputy Brian Kohlhepp told Fox News Digital. “When I called her husband and her sister, who’s her only living relative, they were shocked. They couldn’t believe it.”
Kopta, now 83, was found in 1999 while wandering through the towns of Naranjito, Corozal, and Toa Alta in the northern part of Puerto Rico and taken in as a person “in need,” but she never told anyone about her life in the United States, police said.
Bits and pieces of her life trickled out over the years as she progressively suffered from dementia, Kohlhepp said during the press conference, and individuals in Puerto Rico were able to piece her life together.
A social worker gathered enough information that she relayed to authorities in Ross Township, where she was a street preacher known as “The Sparrow, a model, and a dance instructor.
A DNA test confirmed her identity after about a year, Kohlhepp said.
Gloria Smith, Kopta’s sister, told the Associated Press that she used to vacation in Puerto Rico with friends before getting married. She said that she loved the “ocean, the beach, and the warm sun”.
Smith stated that her sister, who had been working at the glass company for 10 years, quit because she was suffering from migraines. Doctors blamed stress. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh offered her a job as an elevator operator.
That’s when family members noticed a change in her behavior. “She said something about seeing an angel there,” Smith recalled.
Kopta believed she was chosen as one of God’s 144,000 “bondservants” on Earth, and gave up all her other hobbies, such as dancing, to devote her life to spreading the word of God, according to the Charley Project, a missing person database.
Kopta was temporarily institutionalized when doctors diagnosed her as having “delusions and grandeur” and that she had schizophrenia. She continued preaching until her death in 1992, after which she was released.
“Unlike most people who stayed on the streets all day, she maintained a neat, attractive appearance, wearing makeup and a dress or skirt each day,” according to the Charley Project. “She had had numerous run-ins with the police and, each time would tell them to be ready because the end of the world was coming.
“Her sister stated Kopta was often mistreated by the strangers she approached. At least once she was beaten and robbed of her jewelry, and she had a vision that she would eventually be beaten to death.”
Kopta’s husband, who knew she was attracted to Puerto Rican’s “balmy climate”, published ads in Puerto Rican newspapers. However, it did not yield any results and he received a death certificate seven years later.
“I went through a lot,” he said. “It’s a sad thing, but it’s a relief off my mind. When your wife goes missing, you’re a suspect.”
He stated that he didn’t intend to visit her but that he was glad to know that she is being cared for.