Pa. woman missing since 1992 and declared legally dead is found alive in Puerto Rico
03/07/2023 8:14 am PST
ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. (TCD) -- A woman who has been missing for over 30 years was found alive at a nursing home in Puerto Rico where she is reportedly living with dementia.
Patricia Kopta, who was known around the Pittsburgh area as "The Sparrow" because of her street preaching, went missing in 1992. In a news conference March 2, Ross Township Deputy Police Chief Brian Kohlhepp said an agent from Interpol and a social worker in Puerto Rico recently reached out to the department to share information regarding Kopta’s location.
Kohlhepp said the officials told him Kopta went into the adult home’s care in 1999 after she was found "in need" and wandering the streets of Puerto Rico. Kopta supposedly "refused to ever discuss her private life" with anyone at the adult home except that she arrived there via a cruise ship from Europe.
As she got older, however, Kopta began revealing more information about her identity and officials "were able to connect enough dots" and contact Ross Township Police.
Investigators in Pennsylvania sent the nursing home a buccal swab, which is a DNA cheek swab, and compared that with a DNA sample from Kopta’s sister and a nephew. A private DNA lab confirmed that Kopta is, in fact, still alive.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Patricia’s husband, Bob Kopta, said at the press conference, "You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been through. It’s such a relief to know she’s alive."
Bob Kopta said his wife began preaching around downtown Pittsburgh and telling people the world was going to end imminently.
NBC News reports Kohlhepp said Patricia Kopta "was concerned she was going to be institutionalized," which might have led to her leaving Pennsylvania for Puerto Rico. She had reportedly been previously diagnosed with delusions of grandeur.
Patricia Kopta was declared legally dead about 25 years ago.
Bob Kopta, who was married to Patricia for 20 years before she disappeared, said, "It’s a relief knowing that she’s not laying in a ditch somewhere, or murdered somewhere."
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