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Woman declared dead suddenly reappears after 31 years

This missing person case has long puzzled the authorities in Pennsylvania (USA): Patricia Kopta was reported missing more than 30 years ago and has already been declared dead.

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Woman declared dead suddenly reappears after 31 years

This missing person case has long puzzled the authorities in Pennsylvania (USA): Patricia Kopta was reported missing more than 30 years ago and has already been declared dead.

Now there is a surprising turn: The 83-year-old was found 2700 kilometers away, in a nursing home in Puerto Rico - as a dementia patient. A DNA test has already proven her identity, as the authorities and family announced at a press conference in Ross Township.

"I didn't believe it. It was a total shock," her 78-year-old sister Gloria Smith told CNN. "We really thought she was dead all these years."

Her surviving husband, Bob Kopta, also said: "It's a sad thing, but it's a relief for me," said the retired truck driver, who was married to Patricia Kopta for 20 years. "I've been through a lot. Every time they found a body somewhere, I would ask myself, 'Is it Patricia? Is it Patricia?'" That's why he spent a lot of money looking for his wife, but never got any clue as to what might have happened.

In 1992 he came home from work in the evening and found an empty house: “She just disappeared. Nobody could tell me what happened,” recalls the 86-year-old. Patricia Kopta's siblings had not received any news either. "If your wife is missing, you're a suspect."

The police, who have largely reconstructed the case using the information from Puerto Rico, have since been able to give him answers: According to this, Kopta wandered through northern Puerto Rico several years after her disappearance in 1992 before she was admitted to a nursing home in 1999 as a "needy person". adults was brought.

Her psychological problems had already begun in the USA: In her hometown, Kopta was known as a street preacher and was nicknamed "The Sparrow" (the sparrow) because of her petite figure. She was often found in parking lots and busy streets in the community of about 31,000 north of Pittsburgh, warning passers-by and motorists of the end of the world.

Before she began preaching, however, Kopta had been a model student who worked, among other things, as a model and dance teacher. After graduating from high school, she took a job at a glass company in Pittsburgh and, according to her family, attended dances on a weekly basis. But after ten years, she quit the job because she suffered from migraines, which doctors attributed to stress. She then worked as an elevator operator in Pittsburgh.

It was then that family members noticed a change in her. "She said she saw an angel there," recalled her sister Smith. Shortly thereafter, Kopta began preaching and was even briefly committed to an asylum after doctors diagnosed her with "megalomania" and found signs of schizophrenia. After her release, she continued to preach—until that evening in 1992.

Despite the difficulties, both family and police were surprised by her disappearance. A clairvoyant was even consulted during the investigation. Kopta's husband had already been on the right track. He knew his wife had wanted to go to Puerto Rico because of the mild weather, so he placed advertisements in Puerto Rican newspapers. He never received an answer.

Her sister also harbored a similar suspicion: Before her wedding, she often vacationed with her friends in Puerto Rico, her surviving sister recalled at the press conference. "She loved the sea, the beach and the warm sunshine." Finally, in 1999, the family petitioned for Patricia Kopta to be declared dead.

Meanwhile, Patricia Kopta was apparently moving through the northern towns of Naranjito, Corozal and Toa Alta, which are southwest of the capital San Juan. When she was first admitted to the adult home, she had implied that she had come to Puerto Rico from Europe on a cruise ship, according to Ross Township Deputy Police Chief Brian Kohlhepp.

It is said that she always strictly rejected inquiries from the nurses and doctors about her life. However, as she began to suffer from dementia, Kopta began to reveal details. Last year, a social worker at the home finally got enough information to inform the authorities back home about the now 83-year-old woman, explains Kohlhepp. Interpol eventually contacted the Pennsylvania police, but it took nearly a year for DNA samples to confirm that the woman was in fact Patricia Kopta.

Smith, 78, now wants to visit her older sister. She says that she is unable to talk to the older sister on the phone because her dementia means she can no longer hold a conversation. "Whether she knows me or not, I still want to see her, hug her and tell her I love her," Smith said. "I thought maybe she was already dead."

Bob Kopta, on the other hand, doesn't want to see his wife again. He never remarried and now wants a degree. He wants to try to forget the past, although he is glad that his former wife is being taken care of.

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