Missing Street Preacher Declared Legally Dead, Found After 30 Years
After being married for 20 years, Rob Kopta came home one day to an empty house. It was 1992. His wife, Patricia Kopta, had recently begun to spend days outside the house without notice, so Rob wasn’t too worried (at first).
As days turned to months, it became clear that something was wrong. This is how a 30-year wait for a missing wife and sister began.
The Missing Sparrow
It was six months after her disappearance before Rob Kopta sought the help of the police to find his wife. The news of the missing woman not only stunned her family but the authorities, too.
Patricia Kopta, nicknamed “The Sparrow” for her slim build, was a street preacher who dedicated much of her life trying to save humanity from an impending doom: the imminent end of the world.
Pat Was Dedicated to Saving the World
When she wasn’t at work, Patricia could be found at Pittsburgh parking lots and roadsides warning whoever cared to listen about the end of the world.
She would also frequent sporting events and concert halls with the same message. However, her family never could have guessed that she would become a preacher in her early life.
She Once Worked at a Glass Company
After Pat graduated from high school – where she bagged straight A’s, she began a brief career in the entertainment and fashion industry. She soon ventured into modeling for a while before becoming a dance instructor.
Pat also worked at the finance department of a Pittsburgh plate glass company. Whenever free from work, she tended to her passion for dancing and visited weekly ballroom dancing events.
Migraines and Another Job
While Pat worked at the glass company, her health became a cause for concern. The doctors diagnosed a migraine which they attributed to the stress of the job.
To save her health, Pat began hunting for a new job. After ten years at the glass company, she secured employment at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh as an elevator operator.
Her Health Takes a Turn For the Worse
After she resumed work as an elevator operator, Pat began to show signs of a mental decline. To the shock of her husband and other family members, she claimed to have seen the mother of God.
She was admitted to a mental health institution for a short while for treatment. While there, doctors said she showed signs of schizophrenia and suffered from delusions of grandeur.
...The World Would End in Three Days
By the time Patricia was discharged from the mental institution, she had lost her job. She then busied herself with public preaching. She warned people about a nuclear armageddon which she was convinced was very close.
According to her husband Rob: “When there was a baseball game going on when a concert was going on, she’d be telling everybody to go home because the world was going to end in three days.”
Rob Hesitates to Inform the Police
After she got discharged from the mental institution, Rob noticed another worrying trend in Patricia’s behavior. She would stay away from home for short periods without his notice.
When she left home for good on the 20th of June, 1992, Rob had presumed that it was just another one of her disappearing episodes. Hence, his reluctance to get the police involved.
A Brush With the Law
Patricia had experienced some pretty unpleasant encounters with the police in the past. While the details of this event aren’t very clear, she was once arrested in Monroeville.
She had also been robbed in the early 1960s. During the encounter, she lost her engagement and wedding rings to the assailants.
Patricia’s Absence Was a Heartbreaking Ordeal for Her Family
Rob described the grief Patricia’s absence threw the family into. “I come home one night and she’s just gone,” he said, “and nobody knows where she’s at.”
Pat was greatly loved by her family and her loss was difficult to recover from. Pat’s sister, Gloria Smith, said the family is “very thankful to know that Patty is alive and well.”
Pat’s Family Endured A Torturous Search
Pat’s family did all they could to find their beloved wife and sister. Since November 27th, 1992, when Rob filed a missing person report with the police, he spent quite a fortune on her search.
Rob, with whom Pat had no children, detailed the harrowing ordeal during an interview. “Every time they found a body somewhere (I would think), ‘Is it Patricia, is it Patricia?’”
Pat Declared Officially Dead After Seven Years
Seven years after her disappearance and with no sign that she was alive, Rob – together with Pat’s family – decided to get a declaration that his wife had passed on.
While there remained some glimmer of hope that she may be found, Rob wanted to end the excruciating search. He must have thought Patricia would have desired the same thing.
Pat Gets Found After 30 Years
On March 3, 2023, Rob received a call that his wife had been found. You can imagine his disbelief from hearing that news after 30 years.
Rob had not remarried since his wife got missing. So, it has been three decades of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness. Patricia was found in Puerto Rico, her favorite vacation spot.
Puerto Rico - Patricia’s Fairytale Home
If anyone could have asked Rob to take a guess, he would have mentioned Puerto Rico as his wife’s location after she disappeared. Pat talked a great deal about the island and how much she loved the place, especially its weather.
Rob sent missing person ads in Puerto Rican newspapers with the hope of finding her. However, none of these efforts paid off.
1700 Miles And Then Some
After wandering around Northern Puerto Rico, Pat was taken into a nursing home in 1999. This was 1700 miles away from home. At this time, she was already suffering from dementia. Later on, she began to speak about her home in bits and pieces.
Fortunately, the care worker assigned to her was attentive enough to gather the pieces of information she provided about her home. She then called the attention of the authorities – who confirmed Pat’s identity before calling her family.
The Indescribable Joy of a Reunion
The news of Pat’s discovery was too good to be true for her husband and sister, Gloria Smith. After speaking with their long-lost loved one on the phone, they confirmed that the long wait was finally over.
Rob and Gloria held a joint press conference telling the world about their past ordeal and their present joy. In Rob’s own words, “You wouldn’t believe what we’ve been through…it is such a relief to know that she is alive.”