Woman declared dead 31 years ago found alive aged 83 overseas

Patricia Kopta disappeared in 1992 when she was in her 50s, and now, at the age of 83, she has been found in Puerto Rico.

31 years ago, she disappeared. Now, she's been found alive despite being declared dead. (photo credit: MAARIV/FACEBOOK)
31 years ago, she disappeared. Now, she's been found alive despite being declared dead.
(photo credit: MAARIV/FACEBOOK)

On more than one occasion, we've heard tragic stories about people who have gone missing. Some were murdered, while others abandoned their lives in favor of a new start. Now, a woman who disappeared more than three decades ago from the United States was found in a nursing home overseas.

Why was she found there? She had been living in a nursing home because she suffered from dementia.

Patricia Kopta suddenly disappeared from her home in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, when she was 52 years old. Her husband, Bob, told local media about coming home after a day of work in 1992 to an empty home, and has not been able to find his wife since. The case of Kopta's disappearance has not been solved over the years, ultimately leading local police to declare her as deceased. 

Much to everyone's surprise, this missing woman was recently found alive living in Puerto Rico. 31 years after her initial disappearance, the now-83-year-old could now be reunited with her family. 

Family reunited

Kopta's sister, Gloria, told local media, "I can't believe we found her. We are in complete shock. We were sure she was dead all these years and we didn't expect to see her again."

In 1999, Kopta was transferred to a nursing home after telling facility staff that she had arrived in Puerto Rico from Europe on a cruise ship, Police Chief Brian Kohlhepp told CBS Pittsburgh. He explained that Kopta was found wandering the streets before entering the nursing home and refused to talk about her private life.

One curious employee could tell that Kopta was suffering from dementia, and contacted Interpol in order to begin an investigation to help her. They began to provide details that they had come to learn over the years about her past, though she was relatively private. 

Following nine months of Interpol investigations and DNA testing, Kopta was successfully identified. Her husband, Bob, explained that he suspected that his wife went to Puerto Rico because she suffered from mental problems and "always talked about going there to enjoy the warm weather."

He explained that he "came home one evening and she had just disappeared. No one knew where she was since then. That's how for 31 years I suffered. I paid a lot of money for 'missing' ads in the newspaper but nothing helped."

Gloria, the missing woman's sister, explained that she was looking forward to visiting Kopta at the nursing home where she now lives, after the difficult time the family went through.

"It was hard for all of us, for my mother who was still alive when she disappeared, and for our other sister. It hurt us so much to know that she died and now I hope I can see her."