Woman Declared Missing & Dead 31 Years Ago Found Alive in Puerto Rico Home

A woman who went missing in Pennsylvania in 1992 and was subsequently declared dead has been found in a nursing home in Puerto Rico. Patricia Kopta went missing in Pittsburgh at age 52 one afternoon and is now 83 years old and living in the Caribbean. She was found by a social worker, who contacted INTERPOL for help in getting her back to her people.

According to Ross Township Deputy Chief Brian Kohlhepp, Kopta’s husband Bob returned home one evening to find his wife of 20 years gone. She said no one could tell the whereabouts of his wife, who happened to be a fiery street preacher back then in Pittsburgh before her disappearance.

Bob said his wife had mental health issues and had always said she wanted to relocate to Puerto Rico, where the weather was warmer. After her disappearance, he said he even posted an advertisement in the local newspaper in Puerto Rico on the off-chance that his wife might be there.

Bob added that it was fairly common for Kopta to “drop out of sight for short periods” of time. “I come home one night and she’s gone, and nobody knew where she was at,” he said. The Pennsylvania Emergency Response Center also posted fliers to solicit help in locating the missing woman. But nothing worked and after many years, Kopta’s family believed she was dead.

According to sources, Kopta actually surfaced in Puerto Rico, where she told people that she came on a cruise ship from Europe. She was found wandering the streets and homeless for many days before she was taken into the nursing home for the elderly in 1999. No one was able to help locate her people because she clammed up about her private life or where she came from.

But when dementia began to set in at her advanced age, she let some details of her personal life slip, and that was how the social worker was able to contact an INTERPOL officer for help. The officer used the tidbits of information she let slip to contact Kohlhepp, who went through the records to locate Kopta’s family.

Over a period of nine months, the police compared the DNA of Kopta, her sister Gloria Smith, and her nephew and found that they matched. Kohlhepp revealed that even before the DNA results came out, Kopta’s family and relatives recognized her when they saw her photograph. Smith said she reached out to the nursing home in Puerto Rico to speak with Kopta after her discovery but couldn’t reach her, but she might likely be traveling down to see her very soon.

“We didn’t expect it,” Smith stated. “It was a very big shock to see – to know that she’s still alive. You know, we’re so happy and I hope I can get down to see her.”