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Husband speaks out after wife who had been declared dead 30 years ago is found alive

Husband speaks out after wife who had been declared dead 30 years ago is found alive

Pennsylvania local Patricia Kopta disappeared in June 1992

The husband of a woman who was declared dead back over 30 years ago before being found alive earlier this week has opened up about his relief.

Pennsylvania-local Bob Kopta's devout Roman Catholic wife Patricia first disappeared from her Pittsburgh home back in June 1992.

Having already been nicknamed 'The Sparrow' due to her tendency to 'drop out of sight' for extended periods of time, 31-year-old 'free spirit' Patricia had previously been known in her local area for preaching.

After being arrested for claiming she'd had 'visions' of the Virgin Mary and subsequently warning total strangers that the world was about to end in an Armageddon, doctors at the time began to believe that she had schizophrenia.

Therefore, it wasn't initially a shock for Bob to one day discover that his wife was missing, with Patricia having seemingly gone off radar before reappearing several times before.

And as a consequence, police at the time declared that her 1992 disappearance wasn’t overtly suspicious.

Patricia was later classified as a 'critical missing person' in the following weeks and an urgent search was launched.

Patricia Kopta first vanished back in 1992. (WPXI)
Patricia Kopta first vanished back in 1992. (WPXI)

A poster released by the Pennsylvania Emergency Response Centre read: "Her family believes she took a flight to Puerto Rico after her disappearance and spent a week or two there before returning to Pittsburgh. She has not been seen or heard from since."

Worried sick and desperate to find his wife, Bob eventually obtained a legal declaration saying that his wife was considered dead after investigators spoke with a psychic, who suggested Patricia had died and that her body was near water.

However, just last year, there was finally an update in the bizarre case.

The senior citizen was found alive aged 83, and in a nursing home in the territory of Puerto Rico, 1,700 miles from home, in 2023.

Investigators found that she was taken in as a 'person in need' after being found wandering aimlessly near the home back in June 1999 - around seven years after Bob reported her as missing.

Patricia has been found alive at the age of 83. (WPXI)
Patricia has been found alive at the age of 83. (WPXI)

It was later realised that the woman had been suffering with dementia - a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.

Patricia started to open up about her life and a social worker eventually figured out that she was from Pennsylvania and had gone to the island on a cruise ship from Europe, and so contacted the relevant authorities.

At the end of a nine-month identification process, that involved a DNA test and analysis of her dental records, it was confirmed that the woman was Patricia.

Bob, who was 86 when news broke and never remarried following his wife's disappearance, said he felt relieved at a press conference following the revelation.

"It’s a sad thing, but it’s a relief off my mind. When your wife goes missing, you’re a suspect."

Her husband Bob has spoken of his relief. (WPXI)
Her husband Bob has spoken of his relief. (WPXI)

"After 30 years, you try to forget about it," Bob answered when asked for a reason for his wife's vanishing.

"Now, I can forget about it. We know what happened, and she is taken care of now. She could have come home any time. But that’s what she wanted. She always said she wanted to go to a warm climate."

Patricia's sister, Gloria, went to Puerto Rico after the DNA test came back positive to see her sister for the first time since 1992.

"We’re very thankful to know that Patty is alive and well," Gloria said to WMTW. "She’s being well taken care of. We really thought she was dead all those years. It was a very big shock to know that she’s still alive."

Featured Image Credit: WPXI

Topics: US News, News, Crime, Sex and Relationships