US News: Patricia Kopta, Pittsburgh woman missing for over 30 years, found alive in Puerto Rico: “Total shock”

A Pittsburgh woman who went missing more than 30 years ago in a case that stumped authorities who later declared her legally dead has been found living in a nursing home in Puerto Rico.

Patricia Kopta left behind a husband and siblings and meandered through northern Puerto Rico for a while before she was taken as a person “in need” to the adult care home in 1999, according to details announced at a news conference this week in Ross Township, where she once lived.

Kopta, once known as a street preacher in her home town, initially kept her past secret while in Puerto Rico. But she began to divulge details as she suffered progressively from dementia, Ross Township Deputy Police Chief Brian Kohlhepp said.

Kohlhepp said those who knew her in Puerto Rico finally made the connection and contacted Ross Township police, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

“As she asked and spoke more, she leaked enough details about her identity that they were able to connect enough dots to contact us,” Kohlhepp said.

Last year, a social worker at the home alerted authorities back home about the now-83-year-old woman. A DNA test has confirmed her identity, Kohlhepp said.

Her husband, Bob Kopta, and her surviving sister, 78-year-old Gloria Smith. filled in details of Kopta’s life at the news conference and in telephone interviews Friday with The Associated Press.

“Shock. I didn’t believe it. Total shock,” Gloria Smith said of learning the news.


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