Missing Woman Found in Puerto Rico After 31 Years

An old case from 30 years ago was reopened when the missing Pennsylvania woman who was pronounced dead was later discovered to be alive. She was found to be living in a nursing home in Puerto Rico, long after officials closed the case.

Patricia Kopta took off without notifying her family and traveled through northern Puerto Rico. After some time, the long-term care home admitted her into their care in 1999.

Kopta was discreet about her history while living in the nursing home and she had dementia, which made it more difficult to get information from her. Last year, a social worker collected more details about her background and informed officials in Pennsylvania about her whereabouts. She is now 83 years old and a DNA test was used to verify her identity.

Bob Kopta, her husband, and Gloria Smith, her 78-year-old sister, were about to share more details about her in a news conference.

Kopta had an interesting past where she was nicknamed “The Sparrow” because of her appearance and effort at warning people on the streets about the end of the world. Doctors diagnosed her with “delusions of grandeur” and explained that she was showing symptoms of schizophrenia.

She left home in 1992 and her husband of 20 years had no clue where she fled to. “I come home one night, and she’s just gone,” Bob said.

“I went through a lot. Every time they’d find a body somewhere (I wondered), ‘Is it Patricia? Is it Patricia?’ It’s a sad thing, but it’s a relief off my mind,” Bob said. “When your wife goes missing, you’re a suspect.”

Although her husband is relieved to find out that she’s still alive, he doesn’t plan on reuniting with her. Smith, on the other hand, will be making a trip to the island to rekindle the relationship with her sister after three decades.

“Whether she knows me or not, I still want to see her and give her a hug and tell her I love her,” Smith said. “I thought maybe she had died.”