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04th Jun 2024

Woman who was declared dead found alive 1,700 miles away from home

Charlie Herbert

A woman who was declared dead after she went missing was found alive more than 30 years later.

Patricia Kopta was a devout Roman Catholic who lived in Pittsburgh, USA.

On November 27, 1992, she was reported missing by her husband of 20 years Bob, almost five months after she disappeared on 20 June 1992.

Described as a ‘free spirit’ who was known for preaching and having spiritual visions, her husband told police it wasn’t unusual for her to disappear for prolonged periods of time.

A search was launched once she was classified as a “critical missing person” though, with the Pennsylvania Emergency Response Centre launching an urgent appeal for any information about her whereabouts.

After seven weeks, Patricia had still not been found, and police declared her to be considered dead.

The whole ordeal was a difficult time for Bob, who ended up consulting a psychic about his wife’s whereabouts.

But in 2023 she was found alive in Puerto Rico, being cared for in a nursing home. The 84-year-old, who has dementia, had been taken in as a “person in need” in June 1999 after she was found near the home.

Her family had suspected she may be in Puerto Rico because she loved holidays there before she was married.

A DNA test later confirmed her identity, and Bob and her two sisters were informed that she had been found, Sky News reports.

Bob said it was a “relief” to know his wife was alive and that he was glad she is being “taken care of.”

Speaking at a news conference after Patricia was found, he said: “It’s a relief knowing that she’s not laying in a ditch somewhere, or murdered somewhere.

“After 30 years, you try to forget about it. 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.”

It is thought Patricia’s mental health declined after she lost her job in 1984. She had started to roam the streets and doctors at a mental health facility diagnosed her with “delusions of grandeur” and said she had signs of schizophrenia.

It is believed she fled the country after becoming “concerned she was going to be institutionalised,” police said.

Speaking about her love of Puerto Rico, her younger sister Gloria Smith said: “She just loved the ocean, the beach, the warm sunshine.”

She said she hopes to visit her sister, even though her mental state has declined, to “give her a hug and tell her I love her.”

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