Patricia “The Sparrow” Kopta was found alive after decades
A Pittsburgh-area woman who has been missing for over 30 years — and was legally pronounced dead a few years ago — has been found alive in Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania authorities said Thursday.
“I come home one night and she’s just gone and nobody knows where she is,” Patricia Kopta’s husband, Bob Kopta, said at a news conference covered by a Pittsburgh-based NBC affiliate WPXI.
The woman’s disappearance became a missing persons case with the Ross Township Police Department that sat on the shelf for decades with no progress. Bob Kopta said his wife has mental health issues and has spoken of going to the island’s warm climate.
“It’s been like this for almost 31 years,” explained the distraught man. “And it was bad. It cost me a lot of money, I even put ads in the newspaper down in Puerto Rico looking for her.”
According to the Charley projectA missing persons database named after Charles Brewster “Charley” Ross, one of the first Americans in the nation’s history to be kidnapped for ransom, Patricia Kopta went missing in June 1992 and was reported missing in November 1992.
The woman’s whereabouts were released to law enforcement in Ross Township last year, Deputy Police Chief Brian Kohlhepp said.
“We have been contacted by a number of people — an agent from Interpol as well as a Puerto Rican social worker — who believed they had her in an adult nursing home there in Puerto Rico,” the MP said during the news conference. “What they reported to us is that she came into their care in 1999 where she was found in distress on the streets of Puerto Rico where she had been wandering around. When she was there, she refused to talk about her private life or her origins.”
Patricia Kopta eventually developed dementia, police said. In recent years, she began sharing important details about her past life in Pittsburgh with nursing home staff, prompting her to investigate. Then international law enforcement was contacted. About nine months ago, Interpol contacted the police department, which kept their file open.
According to Kohlhepp, the RTPD received the DNA sample from Patricia Kopta and then one from her sister and a nephew.
Those tests confirmed that the elderly patient was the same woman — known in Pittsburgh as a street preacher known as “The Sparrow” — who disappeared, leaving her family confused.
“Shock,” said Gloria Smith, the found woman’s sister, at the press conference. “I didn’t believe it. It was a total shock. We really thought she was dead all these years. We didn’t expect it. It was a very big shock to see – to know that she was still alive. And she is – we are so happy. And I hope I can come down to see her.”
“We are very grateful to know that Patty is alive and well,” added Smith. “She is well taken care of.”
The Charley Project offers details of the woman’s life before she disappeared:
She walked around town, approached strangers and told them that she had a vision of the Virgin Mary and that the world was about to end. Her sister explained that she has been “religiously obsessed” since childhood.
She led a normal life with a job as an elevator operator at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh until 1984 when her religious vision surfaced. Soon after, Kopta lost her job because she was “seeing things” and her behavior was disruptive, and then she began walking the streets to spread her message. Believing that she had been chosen to be one of God’s 144,000 “body servants” on earth, she gave up all her other hobbies, such as dancing, to devote her life to spreading the word of God.
Unlike most people who stayed on the street all day, she maintained a neat, attractive appearance, wearing makeup and a dress or skirt every day. She had numerous run-ins with the police, each time telling them to be ready because the end of the world was coming.
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https://lawandcrime.com/crazy/we-really-thought-she-was-dead-long-missing-pennsylvania-woman-discovered-alive-in-puerto-rico-after-30-years/ Patricia “The Sparrow” Kopta was found alive after decades