The case of Patricia Viola was suggested to me by a reader of this blog. Thank you, Ted!
Patricia Viola vanished from her home on February, 13, 2001. A body was found in 2002, later confirmed to be Patricia. However, no one has been arrested and the case remains unsolved.
About the Case
On February 13, 2001, 42-year-old Patricia Viola left her Bogota, New Jersey home around 8:30 a.m. to volunteer at her son’s school library. Before she left, Patricia set the house alarm. She arrived at the school where she spent three hours volunteering.
Patricia arrived back home around noon and phoned her mother at 12:30 p.m. Her mother had left a voice mail message asking if everything was okay. The house alarm had been tripped, so her mother was concerned. Patricia said she must have left the door partially open and that it triggered the alarm. After reassuring her mother everything was fine, Patricia hung up the phone.
Sometime after the phone call, Patricia disappeared, leaving her personal belongings, including her Epilepsy medicine, behind. Her mother was the last known person to speak with her.
The home security system log showed there was a reset of the alarm done on the control panel from inside the home at 1:11 p.m. Patricia vanished sometime between 1:11 p.m. and 4:30 p.m when her husband, Jim Viola, arrive home from work.
Neighbors of the Violas did not see anything out of the ordinary that day. School officials and Patricia’s mother both said the stay-at-home mom seemed fine and not under duress.
It is assumed that Patricia left her home after resetting the alarm. Where she went after that remains a mystery.
Police visited hospitals, crisis centers, and homeless shelters, but Patricia was not found.
In 2002, partial remains were discovered on Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, about 33 miles from Patricia’s home. In 2012, DNA confirmed the remains belonged to Patricia. However, her fate is still unknown and no one has been arrested for a crime.
The case led to the establishment of Patricia’s Law in 2008, which states that “a law enforcement agency shall accept without delay any report of a missing person and cannot refuse to accept such reports for any reason.” In addition, if the person remains missing after 30 days, the law requires police to attempt to gather DNA samples and forward those samples to the appropriate agency, and ultimately, entry into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) for a possible match.
The Investigation Discovery show, Disappeared, aired an episode on Patricia around Halloween 2011. Unfortunately, nothing came from the broadcast and the case remains unsolved.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I tried finding the Disappeared episode on this case, but had no luck. It appears that you have to pay to watch an episode, so even if I found it, I would not have paid to watch it. On the show’s website, it states a possible connection between Patricia and a triple homicide. I searched and the only thing I found was a 1997 triple homicide in Bogota that happened across the street from the Viola home. I think that’s it, but not sure what the connection is. I don’t remember that from the show. Maybe Patricia saw something the day of the homicides and was murdered over it. The only problem I have with it is that I think the people responsible were in jail for the triple murder when Patricia disappeared. I supposed someone on the outside could have done it for them. But the murders happened in 1997, so why wait almost 4 years to kill her?
A Reddit user who saw the Disappeared episode posted this:
Her best friend, Toinette, stated that shortly before Pat went missing, her and Jim came over to her house for a party. Pat was dressed well and had her makeup done like normal, but didn’t look right. She could tell something was terribly wrong. Pat asked to speak to her alone and begged her to cancel her upcoming vacation plans because she needed her. Pat was distraught but stated that she couldn’t tell her what was wrong yet but needed her to stay home from the planned vacation so she could tell her what was wrong. Toinette agreed to cancel her vacation plans. When she spoke with Pat on the phone trying to follow up, Pat appeared to brush off the meltdown at the party and wouldn’t talk about it (was someone else in the room with her and she couldn’t talk?). As far as I know, no one ever discovered what she was so distraught about before she went missing. She also asked Toinette to make sure her kids were okay “no matter what happened to her”.
Additionally, Pat’s sister-in-law was staying with them and living in their basement. Pat had gotten into a fight with her SIL over her smoking on their house and damaging some bedding with a cigarette burn. Pat’s SIL described her as being “in a rage/like a madwoman” over it and everyone who heard the story was in shock and had never seen Pat act in such a way, it was completely out of character for her.I don’t think she left home on her own because her belongings were left behind.
After I read this, I’m pretty sure I have seen this episode, but I don’t remember all of it. There was definitely something going on with Patricia prior to her disappearance. She seemed paranoid and emotional. If this did have something to do with the triple murder, she would have good reason to feel that way. Maybe it was her medication causing it.
The conversation she had with Toinette, in my opinion, tells me that she feared for her life. She knew something bad was going to happen to her. I don’t understand why she couldn’t just tell Toinette then and there at the party. I mean, they were alone in a room. So did this have to with Jim? He was at the party, too. And Patricia wanted to make sure that if anything happened to her, Toinette would see to it that her kids were okay. No mention of Jim, who said he was Valentine’s Day shopping on the afternoon of the 13th. I’m sure police followed up with that and checked surveillance videos of the places Jim visited. 😉
Patricia might have been having an affair. Maybe this guy turned into a bit of an obsessed lunatic or something. This could explain why Patricia was so distraught when she was talking to Toinette. The person she was having the affair with probably wanted to talk to her. She agreed. He then picked her up, drove here somewhere to “talk”, something happened, and he killed her. Sounds plausible to me. It’s happened numerous times before.
Some believe Pat committed suicide. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Two studies on suicide in epilepsy have found a higher risk of death from suicide in people with epilepsy, ranging from 3.5 to 5.8 times higher than in the general population.” I think if she committed suicide, somebody would have seen her at some point along the way, whether it be on a bridge or what not. No sightings were reported as far as I can tell. It was broad daylight, yet nobody reported seeing her. So, that stands out a bit. Also, her body would have been found a lot sooner if this was suicide, not 18 months later. And I’d expect more of her remains, not just a foot.
Women always take their purse with them when we go anywhere. The fact that Patricia did not take hers means she either left in a hurry, didn’t plan on being gone long, or was taken from the house against her will.
This one is really strange and any number of things could have happened to Patricia. What do you think happened to her? Comment below!