Pittsburgh woman missing for more than 30 years found alive in Puerto Rico

ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Patricia Kopta, a Pittsburgh street preacher, also known as “The Sparrow,” has been found after being missing for more than 30 years.

It’s a missing persons case that sat unsolved at the Ross Township police department for over 30 years.

“I come home one night, and she’s just gone, and nobody knows where she’s at,” said Bob Kopta.

Bob Kopta struggles to talk about the journey to search for his missing wife. He said she had some mental health issues and talked about wanting to go to Puerto Rico where it was warm.

“It’s been going on almost 31 years it’s been bad. It cost me a lot of money, I even put advertisements down in the paper in Puerto Rico looking for her,” Bob Kopta said.

While none of that worked, she was right where he thought she might be.

“We were contacted by an agent from Interpol as well as a social worker from Puerto Rico who believed they had her in an adult care home in Puerto Rico. They said she came into their care in 1999 when she was found in need in the streets where she is wandering around. While there, she refused to discuss her private life or where she came from,” said Deputy Chief Brian Kohlhepp with Ross Township Police.

Years later, with dementia, she started to divulge some details that connected the dots back to Ross Township. DNA samples were a match.

“Shock. I didn’t believe it. It was a total shock,” said Gloria Smith, Patricia’s sister.

The case is now officially closed and a family reconnected.

“We really thought she was dead all those years. We didn’t expect it and it was a very big shock to find out she was alive, and we are so happy, and I hope I can get down to see her,” Smith said.

In total, the whole process took about nine months from when Interpol agents contacted the police and all the DNA sampling was complete.

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