What Happened to Patricia Viola?

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

patricia-violaOn 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!

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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • TrueCrimeFanatic

    Hi I just found this blog, glad to see I’m not alone! I just saw the episode. The whole issue about the triple murder across the street was because the trials were taking place about the same time and one of the men involved had tried to find a hit man to kill a witness. Maybe he thought since she lived across the street she saw something. The police followed up and didn’t find a connection. Just wanted to update you.

  • Julie Jo

    Just some thoughts:

    The single key that was found on the kitchen counter was deemed as unusual…it was a back door key that Patricia’s husband said was always locked from the inside of the back door. There would be no need to move the key unless you were unlocking it to go out the back door to the back yard, in which case you would likely take it with you so you could re-lock the door when you went back into the house. So would it be reasonable to say that the key was moved on purpose to keep someone (Patricia) IN and prevent her from “escaping” out the back door? If so then why neatly place the key on the counter afterwards?

    So someone had to have moved the key. Why?

    No mention of life insurance on Patricia. (follow the money)

    Patricia’s dna was found and matched in 2014 to a “cadaver” on a NY beach that washed up just months after she went missing. It went unidentified until 2014 because it was only a FOOT and DNA testing was not advanced enough at the time to make an identification. Could this mean that she was dismembered? How likely is it that if she jumped off a bridge that body parts would be found detached? Which bears the question: Who would dismember her? Why would they go to such extremes to hide the body?

    Thanks for listening- JJ

    • Ted7 l1j

      Hi Julie Jo: that back door key being neatly placed on the kitchen table is just one more strange piece of this puzzling case. As for life insurance, I honestly don’t think her husband Jim had anything to do with this. I could be wrong, but life insurance doesn’t necessarily pay off unless there is a body. Jim would have had to have waited a good long time and HOPE that the leg would wash ashore and eventually be determined to be hers, and as you said, it was years before DNA testing would be accurate enough to make that determination, so I honestly don’t believe that her husband Jim had anything to do with this. And yes, somebody more than likely DID dismember her body! Unless of course somebody took her out on a boat and threw her to the sharks, which is why only a foot was found.

      I have recently felt that she was probably having an affair that somehow turned bad and dangerous…but again I have to ask the obvious question: WHY ? Patricia Viola didn’t appear to be the type that would have an affair; that is, a shy unassuming woman with a happy family life. Yes she was disturbed by the revocation of her driver’s license because of the epilepsy, but why would that lead somebody into an affair?

  • Lee

    I just watched this episode on Disappeared. Did anyone question the sister in law? She could have had opportunity and motive.

    • Ted7 l1j

      Strange how the sister-in-law wasn’t interviewed for that segment. I have to wonder what Jim’s relationship is with his sister these days. Apparently she was staying with Jim and Patricia for some reason, but I don’t recall any revelations as to why. Did she associate with lowlifes and thugs? I have no idea. However, Jim never gives an opinion about his sister on the show.

      • Karen Pritchett

        Think she was estranged from husband, if I remember correctly.

  • iwonder

    My best guess is that Pat may have had an affair of some sort. If so there is two possible scenarios. Pat ran away with him and somewhere along the way something happened or in my opinion the more likely scenario is that she wanted to end the affair and was afraid the event and wanted to tell her friend about it but after sleeping one night came to conclusion that she wanted to do it in secret because she did not want to tarnish her reputation of a good wife. and in the afternoon when she left the house to end the affair something went wrong, maybe someone got mad and did something to her. I think the second scenario is more likely. I don’t want to be rude or nothing but in my opinion this is the most likely scenario.

    • I agree with the 2nd scenario! I think that makes the most sense. Thanks for commenting!

    • Ted7 l1j

      I’m thinking that your second scenario is the most likely one. Nonetheless as I have posted before, what I cannot figure out is what would have led Patricia Viola to have an affair in the first place. TrueCrimeDiva points out logically that perhaps something was missing Patricia’s marriage that another man was able to fulfill, and sadly it turned dangerous…which is pretty much what you said, and I’m thinking that’s very likely. However, it baffles me as to why a seemingly shy and devoted wife and mother would go seeking sexual attention from someone else when it appeared that she had a good marriage and family to begin with; why put her marriage in jeopardy? On the other hand, maybe there wasn’t anything specifically wrong with her marriage, but she fell victim to her passions by some guy that she just happened to meet who just happened to press her romantic buttons. As I’ve pointed out to my own wife, my favorite dessert is German Chocolate Cake with an ice cold glass of milk. However, sometimes I would prefer a canoli, peach cobbler, yellow layer cake with chocolate icing, banana cream pie, or some double stuff oreos and a glass of milk. However, I know if I ever bite into that canoli or peach cobbler that I will NEVER EVER get to enjoy that German Chocolate Cake ever again, so I refrain from indulging due to the negative consequences===but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t enjoy the indulgence while it lasted. Perhaps that is what Patricia Viola was doing…indulging herself illicitly. Sadly one thing led to another and she ended up murdered. Very sad indeed.

  • Zoya

    First let me start by saying I just stumbled upon your website and as a true murder/mystery fanatic, I feel at home❤️

    Now, concerning Patricia’s disappearance, I agree with the other posters who focused on the alarm. As soon as I saw that her alarm had tripped I immediately wondered why there wasn’t more discussion about it or investigation into the matter. I think the fact that her mom was so concerned shows that it wasn’t a common occurrence and for Patricia to just brush it off and reassure her mother that it was nothing seems extremely odd.

    It doesn’t seem like someone would knowingly put themself in a situation where they could so easily be caught by doing something as simple as setting off an alarm, plus he had to have heard the message being left by Patricias mother right after the alarm went off, which most likely reinforced his need to draw attention away from the home/Patricia. So, this is how I think it played out:

    Patricia returns home from her sons school at noon and as soon as she shuts her front door behind her she is confronted by the intruder. Like anyone would, Patricia freaks out. She’s hysterically crying and shaking so he needs to reassure her that hes only there for money/valuables and he’s not going to hurt her as long as she calls her mother back and reassures her that everything is fine. But Patricia has been freaking out for a bit by now and he needs her to call her mother back ASAP so that no one decides to drive over to the house in order to make sure everything is ok. So Patricia composes herself to a point where she can make the call and doesn’t sound distressed, it’s definitely plausible that 30 minutes is ample time to freak out and calm back down. So, Patricia calls her mom at 12:30, it’s a brief conversation and Patricia ends the call after 5 minutes.

    Now here is where it’s impossible to know exactly what transpired. They don’t leave the house for another 36 minutes and it doesn’t sound like the home was found with any evidence of a struggle or even anything missing or out of place. So after 35 minutes of unknown activities, they leave the house in a rush. He has her reset the alarm as not to draw anymore attention to the situation and also to give himself more time before people notice Patricia is legitimately missing. He has to have a weapon of some sort to make her scared enough to obey his orders and to also leave everything she needs behind. Someone with a serious medical condition isn’t going to leave their potentially life saving medication behind and someone who plans on killing you isn’t going to give two craps about whether or not you have your potentially life saving meds. After this I think she was probably murdered pretty quickly as soon as they got far enough out of town.

    So, if anyone is still reading this this-you are a champ and I apologize for getting way too into this-if I had to guess who the brains behind this operation was, I would guess the husband, Jim. I obviously don’t know all the details but there are tons of similar cases where a spouse is murdered and the other has a rock solid alibi (like conveniently going places with cameras so you can be documented and time stamped buying gifts for your now dead wife) until it comes out that the actual murdering was done by hired help. Plus, let’s not forget her plee to Toinette to make sure her kids were ok no matter what AND her refusal to discuss her feelings with Toinettent while in proximity to Jim. This is 100% possible with Jim finding an unknown, experienced and (probably) younger guy to go in and execute his long and thought out plan.

    The ONLY detail that makes me point my finger away from Jim goes back to that damn alarm. Wouldn’t Jim let his murderer-for-hire know the code? Or at least a way to get around setting it off? Then again, we all forget things so maybe that crucial bit of info slipped Jim’s mind when he was finalizing his wife’s horrific murder plot. I can only imagine he has a lot of stuff going on in his head at the time!

    Let me know if I sound completely crazy or if you agree! Sorry for writing so much, I hit the jackpot by finding you True Crime Diva. My narcolepsy and interest in all things real life murder/mystery thanks you!!

    • LOL, no problem! And no, you do not sound completely crazy! Your scenario is probably the most logical and I would say that is what probably happened. It’s easy to point the finger to Jim, but I’m not convinced he killed her or had someone kill her for him. BUT…many things go on in a marriage nobody on the outside knows about, so I don’t think we can rule him out. I have to wonder though, if you’re right, what was the motive? Surely, they looked into life insurance policies and Jim having an affair.

      But I’m not sure if he had her killed if he would devote an entire website to finding her. And, usually in cases where the husband kills his wife, there’s strange activity by the husband following the death, like getting involved with another woman right away or spending lots of money. I don’t think this was the case with Jim.

      Regardless of who may have killed her, I do believe the person was known to her. I don’t feel this was a random abduction/murder.

      Thanks for your input! I love it when my readers contribute their opinions, too! 🙂

    • Ted7 l1j

      Hi Zoya: I respectfully disagree with your assessment for the following reasons:

      1. I have no doubt that Jim was thoroughly investigated, and it really doesn’t appear that he had anything to gain from having his wife murdered (insurance policy doesn’t pay off until proof of death is forthcoming, and that didn’t happen for years; Jim didn’t suddenly have a new woman in his life).

      2. I too am bothered by the alarm going off. The cops went by to investigate but didn’t find anybody. It doesn’t appear that the cops did a very thorough job of investigating the alleged break-in. Other posters point out the likelihood of Patricia doing a half-ass job of investigating, but I don’t know why she would have done that without police protection, ESPECIALLY considering her bizarre behavior up to this point (a screaming rant against her sister-in-law; a mysterious plea to Toinette).

      3. She was obviously expecting something bad to happen as revealed in her conversation with Toinette. Jim was a the party with her, but they were both in Toinette’s room privately conversing, so there is no reason to believe that she was trying to shield Jim from this.

      4. I know this next thing is simply conjecture on my part, but if Patricia Viola had, for whatever odd reason, decided to have an affair that began to take a dangerous turn, then that may explain her odd behavior. Think about it for a moment: If she wanted to speak with Toinette so badly that Toinette actually cancelled her vacation plans, then Patricia must have convinced Toinette of the gravity of the situation. Patricia disappeared before the conversation could take place. Nonetheless, i could see Patricia not wanting to reveal an extra-marital affair at a holiday party, especially an affair that has turned ominous, since she would not want to deal with it under those circumstances. I could see why Patricia didn’t want Jim and her family and friends to know that she was having an affair. I could see why she would fear reporting this to the authorities since it had the potential to destroy her marriage.

      5. As for the hysterical rant at Jim’s sister over cigarette burns on the sheets: I know that I’m potentially incurring the wrath of a lot of women here, but it’s been the experience of myself and many other guys that many times when some women are upset about something that they are reluctant to discuss, they will instead pick boisterous fights over seemingly insignificant issues in hopes that these arguments will somehow lead to a resolution over what they are truly upset about.
      For example, I saw this in my own family. Neither of my parents drove a car, so I was the oldest and thus the first one in our family to learn to drive and have a car. Although this was not apparent to me until I became an adult and understood life better, my mother did not like to socialize with my father’s side of the family. For many years on holidays and such, since we didn’t have access to a vehicle then we didn’t have to attend events with my father’s side. Once I started driving, then we could. So what did my mother do nearly every time there was an event on my dad’s side? She would deliberately pick fights with ME so that I would get mad and say “Okay Mom, i’m not driving you to our relatives’ place! Stay home!” Well of course, that is EXACTLY what my mom WANTED me to do. Then of course I looked like the bad guy who refused to accommodate the family because I got angry with my mother. NOTE: it wasn’t until I was in my 20s and had a girlfriend pull this same nonsense with me that I figured out what was going on. FYI—similar things happened with my own buddies and their moms, their sisters, and their girlfriends. Perhaps Patricia Viola was doing the same thing===starting an argument over something unrelated so she could draw attention away from whatever she was hiding.

    • Kathy

      I always thought it had something to do with the alarm being tripped earlier that morning. On the episode of Disappeared, we learn that Jim comes home and the alarm has been activated, but we’re also told that Pat had RESET the alarm after the earlier triggered alarm @ 1:11 p.m., but we’re never told what time the alarm had been “activated”, hence Jim coming home to an “active” alarm. I’m with you, when she entered her home at 11:30 a.m., someone had to have been waiting, she NEVER took her coat off, which is why it was not in the house when Jim came home that afternoon. I’ll always believe that someone was in the home when she returned from the library.

      • Mamagacci

        I have watched this episode as well and thought the same thing. That someone was in the house when she came home and then took her out of the house.

        • Michelle

          I agree… Someone was in the house and I do not believe it was Him or his sister.

    • Julia Price

      The husband was interviewed by several cops and took a polygraph. I don’t think he was involved.
      I think an affair is unlikely.
      Maybe she had some money trouble

    • Kay

      I really don’t think Jim was involved (and I’m known to think the husband is always guilty, LOL). He seemed very earnest in how he came across and never even remarried after 10 years. He was still hoping to give his wife her Valentine’s presents. Plus, I doubt he would forget the alarm code. Like you, I love these types of murder mysteries but I wish real people didn’t go through these horrible tragedies. This really is one puzzling case.

  • Ted

    Thanks for writing about this one! I think that Patricia Viola may have been involved in an affair because she WAS reluctant to speak with Toinette that night of the party. What I cannot figure out is WHY she would put herself in such as situation; she at least appeared to have a good life with a good husband and family. WHY she would carry on with another man (assuming that she did) when this would only cause problems within her marriage anyway?

    • Yeah, that doesn’t make sense. But maybe there was something missing in her marriage that she found with someone else. Hard to say, but it wasn’t a good choice, unfortunately.

  • Kimberly

    What stood out to me is that she supposedly set her home alarm before leaving that morning, but it was tripped while she was away volunteering. Her mother stated that Patricia blew it off as a mistake on her part, but what if someone broke in while she was gone and abducted her shortly after she returned home, reset the alarm, and spoke to her mother? The husband being away “Valentine’s Day shopping” piqued my interest as well. I can’t even tally up how many times something similar was claimed by a woman’s significant other after her murder or disappearance. “But I was just out being the amazing husband that I always am!” 😉 Of course, I could be wrong.

    • The tripped alarm got me too! I think you’re right about that! I’m not convinced of the husband’s guilt, but it’s happened so many times before that it wouldn’t surprise me. I would think police would have looked at surveillance videos from the stores he said he visited that day, but I didn’t find anything about that.

    • DL22

      I’m thinking alarm tripped, she went home, did a half-assed check, saw nothing, reported to her mother as such and then whoever tripped it was hiding and took their opportunity.

      No way was this suicide – unless she had some specific connection to it, why would go all the way to Queens to kill herself? How did she get there? Makes no sense.

    • Kay

      Well, at least in this case it was actually the day before Valentine’s, so very realistic that the husband was out. And he wouldn’t trip the alarm.