One of the first places police looked after Jim Viola of Bogota reported his wife missing was the family basement. They didn’t find any trace of Patricia there — or anywhere else since then.
If they don’t over the next five months, Valentine’s Day 2011 will be a sad anniversary for those who loved the epileptic library volunteer, including her two children — now 22 and 19.
It will then be 10 years that she’s gone. Her 52nd birthday was last Tuesday.
On Saturday, another in a line of public events was held, this one outside the Viola home, to keep people aware that no one has reported seeing the petite housewife since Feb. 13, 2001.
It seems a long way from the day police brought in the canine unit to sniff around the floor of the Chestnut Street basement for any evidence that someone killed Viola.
“We didn’t find anything,” a detective privately told me.
He didn’t want to unduly stir a demonstrably distraight Jim Viola, an engineer for Honeywell in Teterboro who already knew the cops were looking at him a bit cock-eyed. You couldn’t blame them: In these instances, the husband or lover is always the default primary suspect until detectives uncover evidence that leads them elsewhere.
Since then, Viola has made it his life’s mission to keep his wife in the public spotlight. In the process, he helped advocate the eventual adoption of Patricia’s Law. As a result, New Jersey became the first state in the country to develop a comprehensive plan for collecting DNA evidence so it can be entered into a database being operated with federal funding by the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.
Voila brought his plea to America’s Most Wanted .
Jim Viola also regularly freshens a website he created: Missing Woman: Patricia Viola and is offering a $10,000 reward “for confirmed Information leading to Pat’s safe return.”
“Color flyers have been sent to every police station in 16 out of New Jersey’s 21 counties, about 600-700 mailings,” Viola said, adding that his site has drawn nearly 50,000 hits, from as far as Australia.
“Hundreds of mailings have been sent to shelters, crisis centers and hospitals,” he added. “Over 10,000 Video CDs & DVDs which I created of Patricia have been circulated locally, to law enforcement, to relatives, to the media and to our growing network of friends and support groups across the country.
Patricia Viola/ Distinguishing characteristics:
Although her ears are pierced, Jim Viola doubts she had earrings on the last day he said he saw her;
She’s 5’2″, 125 lbs, with brown hair, brown eyes, and at least 3 birthmarks on the front right side of her neck;
She liked long-sleeved sports shirts, jeans and running shoes.
- The last people to report seeing her was a woman at the Bixby School Library and the Palisade Avenue crossing guard.
Her mother said they spoke by phone. Jim Viola said he later found her purse, keys, ID, and cellphone, as well as the medications she took — Dilantin & Phenobarbital — for a seizure disorder. The house alarm was set, Viola told police.
Investigative Agency: Bogota Police Department
Phone: (201) 487-2400
Investigative Case #: 2001-23-18
NCIC #: M341353827
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