(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): Hello everyone. Welcome to Missing Pieces. Tonight we have Jim Viola; his wife, Patricia Viola has been missing for 6 years today. Welcome to the show, Jim.
JIM VIOLA (Guest): Thank you, Todd. I’m happy to be here. Thanks for giving me the time.
TODD: Well, it’s been 6 long years.
JIM: It sure is 6 years today. It was 6 years ago in the evening that I was basically doing a mad scramble trying to figure out what was going on. I mean, after coming home from work that day, the kids were home from school, and I expected Pat to be home at that time, but she wasn’t. It was kind of strange right off the bat. Actually, what kind of happened that day, I feel like a little guilty, but that day I had a big meeting in the morning and it didn’t go to well so our boss took us out to lunch, and Valentine’s Day was the next day because it was the 13th, and I’m out shopping at the mall, shopping for a gift for Pat in the afternoon. And then I go and find out later that, you know, I come home later in the day around 4:30 after shopping and getting an oil change late in the afternoon, and then come home and Pat was not around. Her pocketbook with all her information is inside the house with her keys and her cell phone. And what’s really strange is, I’m out there shopping for Valentine’s gifts for her and I find out later that she had worked in the school library because she always wanted to be around the children, so any opportunity that she had, she would do that, so she volunteered in the school library that morning from 8:30 to 11:30. Everything seemed to go well according to her colleagues there. Then she came home. It was a short walk; she wasn’t driving at the time because she has epilepsy and she had had a seizure a couple months prior. She was on medication but because she’d had a seizure, she wasn’t driving at the time and she didn’t even have access to a car. The car was with my assistant so there was no car. She walked to the school; it was only a couple blocks away and she had come home, walked home, and she got home about 11:30 a.m. We know she got home because the crossing guard saw her, and we know she got home because she picked up a message from her Mom who had called her. She returned the call to her Mom, and according to her Mom, that conversation was normal, whatever normal is, and shortly after that she probably did some things around the house and then after examining the alarm records, I realized that a reset was done on the alarm for the purpose off leaving again and that was logged at 1:11 p.m. in the afternoon.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: Now, we would estimate that she came home around 11:45, maybe did a couple things, spoke to her Mom, and left the premises, probably to go shopping for Valentine’s Day actually, like myself, because she had told a friend that she was going to walk down to the store and get some things; she had some things in mind. And her mother was the last person to speak to her.
TODD: Tell me about home now. You live in Bogotá, Bergen County.
JIM: I live in Bergen County.
TODD: You still live in the same home.
JIM: Northern New Jersey; same home.
TODD: What size town are you living in?
JIM: Relatively small town, less than a square mile, maybe 7,000 to 8,000 people.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: A very tight-knit town.
TODD: So we all know everybody in this town.
JIM: Pretty much.
TODD: I live in a very small town too and nothing happens in a small town that everybody doesn’t know about, you know. I think we have like one missing person in our town.
JIM: There are constant reminders around the town of course with all my missing posters and signs, and it’s been an endless amount of information that I am trying to get out there. I designed a DVD for Pat and, basically, probably have given out close to 4,000 to 5,000 of those.
JIM: I have them at the local mart, Mini-mart and Quickchek and other places like that, and people will take them and there’s tons of information on that video.
TODD: Can I download that on the website? Is that available on your website?
JIM: Well, the DVD per se, no, it’s kind of large, but the website, which I will mention that and put together is patriciaviolamissing.homestead.com. That website that I put together has a tremendous amount of information on it.
TODD: It is huge. It’s very well put together and you’ve really put a lot of thought in it.
JIM: It is there that there are various clips of video of Pat. I try to keep them short so they’re easy to download and there’s a special page for those and, of course, tons of pictures. There’s a message board where people can actually go in and put their own ideas in and write back and offer support. There’s a guestbook of course. There are sections on media updates, trying to keep everybody up to speed on what’s going on, and then there’s another section on other missing people, I’ll get more on that later but I’ve been very active with helping with other people and there’s a whole other section on that. But what I would like to do is talk a little more about Pat; give some information of her likes and dislikes and stuff like that, and tell everybody about some of the programs that we’ve gotten involved in.
TODD: How old was Pat?
JIM: Pat was 42.
TODD: Okay, so she would be 48 today.
JIM: She would be 48 years old. She was born in 1958; August 18th. Actually born in Jersey City, New Jersey, and moved to Bogotá when she was 5 in 1963. She developed the epilepsy when she was around 13 or 12; she had bang her head and, unfortunately, the epilepsy started, but it never slowed her down, you know, it took a while for the medication to…to get the right combinations, but it never really slowed her down. I just want to tell a little more information about Pat.
TODD: But she’s tied to this medication; it’s a requirement, right?
JIM: Absolutely. She took the medications Phenobarbital and Dilantin. She took it twice a day; at 8 in the morning and 8 at night, literally, like clockwork, and that was one of the things I found when I came home. Her pocketbook was sitting there and in the pocketbook was her medication. And the medicine, she kept a stash in her purse, of course, and then in the house was the remainder of it; all the medication was in the house. Everything was in the house.
TODD: So they got a really good balance with her medication, I’m sure. Like you said, it takes time to get that right balance. I have a relative that’s on that type of medication and when it’s not right, they’re not right. She has been over-medicated as times and under-medicated at times and it’s essential to get that balance.
JIM: Right. Well, luckily, Pat was pretty much under control.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: She would only have maybe one seizure per year.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: Okay, now, she went missing 6 years ago today, February 13th, 2001, and she had a seizure on November 11th, 2000, so a couple of months prior she had a seizure and that’s when she lost her privilege to drive. So it was basically under control but she did have them from time to time and it’s a major concern that she doesn’t have her medication with her. I’ll tell you a little more about Pat. She’s a very, very loving person. You know she would walk into the room and everybody would be happy; she always had a smile and, like I mentioned, she always wanted to be around the children. She was a Den Mom for Michael’s cub-scout troupe and a Class Mom and always volunteered at school to be around the children and she worked on all the committees at school, field days, etc. A dedicated mom.
TODD: Well, every picture that I’ve seen of her, she’s just ear to ear smile. She seems like a very, very happy person.
JIM: Pat, if you’re listening, you know you are my real true love. She was a dedicated Mom and wife. I mean, my son, Michael, when he was 2 years old, he had to have open-heart surgery.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: She sat for 9 days at his side, just being there for him. Luckily, everything went well, he made a full recovery. And, she’s dedicated to me as well. When it comes to work days and stuff like that, she would go down to the computer room, go through my notebook and see what I was investigating, whether it was a scanner or a printer and kind of get an idea and she’d kind of like sneak out and buy me a gift, you know, try and get the right gift. She was thoughtful. She loved the family vacations, you know, whether it’s Florida or seaside New Jersey or our time-share that we have up in Shawnee up in the Pocono's, which actually, we had purchased in June of 2000 and she only got to use it with us once, but she loved it. Pat loved ‘50s music and Lionel Ritchie, and singing the karaoke and old records and stuff like that. [She loved] ‘Giorgio’ perfume and dancing and going on cruises and stuff like that, and basically, she is so loved by her family and friends, and we will never stop trying to find her. It will be on the website, all these ends we’ve gone to, to find her.
TODD: You certainly have, and I don’t want to hit you like a Nancy Grace interrogation, but I have to ask, during the course of the investigation, did they ever question you? Was there any sign that something was…?
JIM: You know what?
TODD: uh huh
JIM: Of course they did.
TODD: Yeah, and you know I’ve had people say, “No, they didn’t’ in other cases and that’s kind of unusual.
JIM: It was the scariest time of my life.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: You know they basically, they probably got the experts, you know, they gave me a lie detector test and they brought me in and they had like a tag team; these guys were good.
TODD: Good cop, bad cop, right?
JIM: Oh yeah. I mean if I had done something, forget it; I would have been in jail.
TODD: You would have admitted it.
JIM: No doubt because, you know, you’re taking a lie detector test, you’re concentrating, you want to do well and get it over with so you can move on so you answer all the questions and the guy says, “Okay, I’ll be right back.” He walks out of the room, his buddy comes in and he goes, “We had a problem with the test.” “What??” And then he...I had cut myself shaving, and he goes, “What’s this mark on here? A hickey? You got something going on the side?” You know they tried all these tactics.
TODD: We they try to divide and conquer and break you down, if at all possible, and I can see the need for that technique, but it’s scary though when you actually had nothing to do with it.
JIM: Yeah, I mean, I almost had to break down and start crying before they would like ease off. And you want to know something? Even when they were driving me home, they even said to me, “Are you sure there’s nothing you want to tell us?” Unbelievable.
TODD: Well do you appreciate this now, I mean, is that something you see as necessary?
JIM: Yes. It certainly is.
TODD: A necessary evil, I’m sure.
JIM: I mean I watch all the shows on TV.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: You know, they look at home first and then they branch out from there, so it’s understandable.
TODD: You know my father-in-law found a body, and it’s sort of how I got into this type or work anyway, and he waited for an interrogation, and it never came. Nobody ever came to question him about the case…nothing.
JIM: I’ve got some more information here. Basically, the Bogotá Police are in charge of the investigation, Detective James Sepp.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: S-E-P-P, and they can be reached at phone number 201-487-2400. You can either reference Pat’s name or Case Number 2001-2318. She’s listed on the FBI NCIC and the number there is M-341353827. You don’t even have to give your name, you can give a tip and we certainly can use a tip.
TODD: Well, we’ll definitely have all of this information on your permanent archive page, you’ll have a permanent archive, we will leave the audio up until it is replaced, at some time, with a text and you’ll have a copy on MP3 to do whatever you want with it. I’m seeing a $10,000 reward.
TODD: Now, how did that come about?
JIM: Well, I guess, I don’t know when it started, maybe about a year in I decided, I mean a lot of people have a reward and I talked to the police about it and they said, “I don’t think it’s going to do anything,” and it hasn’t yet, but the police really didn’t think that it was going to do anything, you know, but I went forward with it. Originally it was $5,000 and my company is kicking in the other $5,000, so now it’s a $10,000 reward.
TODD: Well that’s good that they’re interested and actually involved in it. Are you are to say what company you work for?
JIM: Yes, Honeywell.
TODD: Of course, I know…you and I have had the opportunity to have some conversations recently. There are so many questions I wanted to ask you but I tried to save them for tonight because I really wanted to spend the time on this program to do that and give you an opportunity to talk about everything. How did that happen? Did they just make an offer to you that they would match it?
JIM: Well, you know, I kept everybody up to date and basically the human resources department and the executives called me into the office one day and said, “You know we’d really like to do something to help and this is what we’re going to do,” so they matched the reward and then I updated everything. It certainly helps, I mean, the $5,000 reward is getting kind of tough to maintain that too. I’ve been doing fundraising and stuff like that, you know, selling shirts on the website and I just got some new pens in, but you know it’s really small stuff and the donations are really what we need to maintain the reward. But when it comes to things like that and getting help, I want to mention somebody who has been really great for us and our family…Joan Petruski. She is with the Kristen Foundation.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: KristenFoundation.org. And she basically helps out families of missing adults, financially, and she’s helped us purchase pens and shirts and stuff like that. She does her own fundraising and she helps the families out. So I want to mention her; she’s been really great for us.
TODD: I think we need to add her to the list of upcoming guests and see if we can invite her to come on the show.
JIM: She’s a great, great person and she’s helping us out so much.
TODD: Have you gotten any tips? Now, with this $10,000 reward, and your interrogation, and it looks like you’ve got some good people working on the case. Any tips?
JIM: We’ve had, I mean as far as people working on the case, we’ve had friends of the family, private investigators come in, I mean I had one guy that was a private investigator through AMW (America’s Most Wanted), pro bono. You know they did the best they could, not that anything came out of it, but they’re still in the background doing checks and so I stay in touch with them. We’ve had private investigators even helping out too, you know. Now, there have been some possible sightings, from as far away as Montana.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: You know, believe it or not, somebody went and passed flyers at a steakhouse out there and a truck driver said that he saw her on the roadside but nothing ever came of that. The police investigated that pretty deeply.
TODD: For our audience, you can download the flyers on the website and apparently it’s something that can be posted on the continent, it would actually help if you post it anywhere, not just in the New Jersey area.
JIM: Right. Any responsible way you could put the poster up and there are also mailing labels, Avery ones that you can download, I put them on all my outgoing mail. There are also banners that can be downloaded and that you can print out and put in your car, your windows. I have one on my front window, I have one in my car window; I have a laminated sign in front of my house with a dusk to dawn light on it so it’s always on as long as it’s dark out.
TODD: Well, as a person who looks at this type of stuff daily, I’m seeing everything on your website, you know it’s a model. If somebody out there’s got a missing family member, this is really put together in a very clean and organized manner. People could learn something from your site, that’s for sure.
JIM: You know when it comes to a model, we got involved with, “What else can we do?” you know.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: Kelly Jolkowski of www.projectjason.org kind of got the ball rolling with a grassroots effort called Campaign For The Missing 2006 and now 2007. Basically, what it is, is it goes back to the Department of Justice putting together a model of a legislation on missing persons going back to 2005, and what they did is, they kind of handed this off to Kelly and others, and they wanted individuals at the state level to get this passed, or to get it through the individual state and make it law. So when Kelly mentioned this to me, I said to myself that this is a great opportunity to do something for the state of New Jersey and for Pat and all the missing, so I took the ball and ran with it. And, I guess the proposed legislation is ‘Patricia’s Law’ if it goes through, and we made some very good progress with it in recent months. State Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson were nice enough to sponsor it and last October (2006), we actually got it introduced into the Senate as a number; they actually have a number assigned to it now.
TODD: New Jersey State Senate, right?
JIM: Right. New Jersey State Senate; New Jersey Law. Back on October 16, 2006, it was introduced as Bill S2255 in full Senate. A week later, it was introduced in the Assembly as Bill A3643. Now having those numbers, you can basically track it online. I’m going to give you a website for New Jersey State and you can actually track its progress at www.njleg.state.newjersey.us. So with those numbers, S2255 and A3643 you can track it. What’s going on with it now, like I said, it’s introduced in each house and they’re in the respective committees right now. So for S2255 it’s the Senate Law & Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and for A3643 it’s the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. So, the important thing right now is, basically, it’s in these committees, but these committees meet, if we’re lucky, once a month, and we have to get the legislation on the agenda.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: If it’s not on the agenda, they’re not going to talk about it and they’re not going to pass it out of committee. I mean it can sit in a committee for years.
TODD: It takes years sometimes. For the smallest things, it takes a long time and that’s a lifetime, you know, 6 years already for you, so imagine.
JIM: The important fact, the important thing that we need to get done is, residents of New Jersey I’m asking if you can write letters to your State Assemblymen and women and your District Senators, okay?
TODD: uh huh
JIM: Ask them to understand more about Patricia’s Law, and hopefully they’ll be able to sponsor it and, you know, get up to speed on it because it does come to vote, at least they’ll be more aware of it. And when it does get on the agenda, they told me I’m going to get called down to testify and I’m looking forward to that. So we’re hoping in the upcoming months, we’ll get it on the agenda and get it through.
TODD: And there are lots of ways to help with this even if you’re not in New Jersey, you can actually use the model that you have on the website, and in other states, if you’ve got a missing family member, you know suggest it to your own state senate. There are so many ways to do this.
JIM: That’s a very good point and Kelly Jolkowski of Project Jason will tell you that other states need help. I mean, I’m working on New Jersey, but there are a lot of other states that nobody is working on it yet. So, all you folks out there, if you want to get involved and help with the missing persons problem, and it certainly is a big problem, and we can use your help at www.projectjason.org and from there you can contact Kelly.
TODD: I’m planning to ask Kelly to be a guest on an upcoming show as well. We’re waiting for a good moment with her work that she is doing now, for something that is more at a right time period for her.
JIM: I want to tell people a little more information about what in Patricia’s Law.
JIM: And maybe how it can help with Pat. Basically, it kind of lays out the whole process when a person goes missing, you know there wouldn’t be any delays in making a report and it models the information intake, especially the data entry into the FBI NCIC, which in Pat’s case took…in accordance with the legislation that we’re proposing, it’s immediate, because Pat is classified ‘At Risk,’ and that’s one of the other features in this here, that they look at the classifications. If you are ‘At Risk,’ you get a priority and the word gets out to the state police and local states and information gets taken care of right away. In Pat’s case, the FBI NCIC information wasn’t accurate and I found out through some contacts in the state police.
TODD: That’s very important; the NCIC’s very important. Now, you said she’s a special case because she’s endangered because of the medicine. What happens if Pat cannot get her medicine? What will happen to Pat?
JIM: Oh, she’ll be having seizures or worse. I guess that’s one of my ideas of what my have happened, she could have had a seizure. But as far as all of what I went through in the last 6 years, you know if this law was in place, I think my life would have been a lot easier and Pat may have been home today. Another reason is, one of the provisions in Patricia’s Law is, after 30 days, if the person is still missing, they go ahead and they develop a DNA profile. Now you know all about DNA?
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And how important that is, and that gets processed along with fingerprints and other details like X-rays, but especially the DNA, it gets processed and put in the CODIS database.
TODD: And that’s in these endangered cases, primarily?
TODD: Because they have a priority. Obviously there’s a priority here.
JIM: They have the priority but, you know, I really didn’t know about all this stuff, and also they improved the communication with the families, especially with telling the families about the national centers that are out there. There’s the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the National Center for Missing Adults, which is what Pat would be in, and the legislation would require that the police inform the families of the existence of these two organizations.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And that way they can help you. I didn’t know about them. I basically found out through word of mouth, and there were a lot of ways they could have helped me over the years.
TODD: What did you know about missing person, in general, before this happened to you? What was your…how did that stand out in your mind? I know you’d heard of missing person.
TODD: You saw them on the news?
JIM: Right. I mean the only missing person I probably knew about was the Edan Path, that goes way, way back; and probably John Walsh’s son, you know, what happened with him.
TODD: Did you have any idea?
JIM: I really didn’t know much, you know, and if I would have known about the National Center for Missing Adults, that is basically a center that serves missing adults and families of. You know they could have been making flyers for me. I mean my first flyer was a photograph taped to a piece of paper with handwritten information about Pat. I’m walking around the neighborhood that night that Pat went missing, you know, I’m going around with my car on high beams looking for her, and then I have this makeshift flyer that I had put together, and then I made copies at work but, to me, in wasn’t a real flyer, per se.
TODD: Well, you learned, you improvised. You learned the art of improvisation.
TODD: And you’ve learned also multi-tasking, which we talked about that earlier in one our pre-interview conversations. How has this changed your life? You’re doing one thing with one hand and another with the other because life goes on. You still have to work, you still have to eat and you still have children; everything goes on.
JIM: Right. Well, the children, you know, my son Michael had just celebrated his 10th birthday just 3 weeks prior to this nightmare starting, and my daughter was 13 years old. Now they are 16 and 18.
TODD: You’ve got quite a handful…
TODD: …with just your children.
JIM: Yeah, and there’s something that I didn’t tell you, you know I’m going to tell you and everybody out there and tell Pat…Pat, you have a grandson! I am a grandfather.
JIM: My daughter, Christine, had a baby boy in July and I am a grandfather. So Pat, come on home and see your grandson.
TODD: You know we always like to give people an opportunity during on the show, you know, but obviously you feel strongly that Pat’s alive and out there.
JIM: I do.
TODD: If you want to…talk to her, tell her what you’d like her to know right now.
JIM: Pat, you know that we love you. I love you very much. You probably know that you are my first true love and we will never stop trying to find you. I will probably take this to my grave and we will find out what happened. I’m learning more and more every day and I literally have thousands and thousands of people working on this for us, probably across the world. We will find you and we will find out what happened. And, like I just mentioned, Pat, you’re a grandmother and we’ve got to bring you home so you can see your grandson and see the children, and see how they’ve grown. They just miss you so much, it’s unbelievable.
TODD: What’s your grandson’s name, Jim?
JIM: Amari. Amari James, he’s very cute. He’s a good boy.
TODD: So are you going to have a photo of him on the website?
TODD: At some point?
JIM: I guess we can do that.
TODD: Just in case, you know?
JIM: Yeah, that’s a good idea. I could do that.
TODD: Now, the doctors…I know obviously she needs her medication basically for survival…did they give you any other explanation? Could a seizure have brought about some type of amnesia or temporary loss of memory?
JIM: I did contact her doctor, and the doctor did indicate to me that, yes, a seizure could lead to amnesia, although usually it’s temporary.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: But, you know, in my evaluation of this whole thing, I’m thinking she may have walked to the store, which is basically walk down our hill, and one or two blocks over and you are at the store. So, one idea I had, like I said her pocketbook and all her personal items were in the house, but she wasn’t driving, she could have taken some money and walked down to the bottom of the hill to go out and pick some things up for the holiday, the next day. So that was one idea we had and, if she took a seizure, anything could have happened at that point.
TODD: Well, even if it’s not an amnesia situation, could it have created a state of mind, where she knows who she is, but just doesn’t want to come home because of some type of misconception that she’s got, some type of paranoia?
JIM: Really, there are so many possibilities.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: I think it’s up to us to find her and it’s up to everybody out there to go on the website, look at the videos, especially the most recent ones, I mean, Pat’s hair in the front was starting to thin out a little bit. You know the most important thing that people can do is make the call to the police 201-487-2400. Everybody knows about the 2 boys that they have just recovered not too long ago.
TODD: That brought a lot of hope to a lot of people.
JIM: Yeah, that and I’ll tell you something else, Shawn Hornbeck’s mom was on the talk shows, and one thing that she was that there were some people that recognized Shawn…
JIM: …and they didn’t call in because they weren’t sure. Shawn could have been found 2 years earlier. So, the message is, to call, don’t be afraid, you know, even if it turns out not to be Pat, nobody is going to get mad at you.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And this goes for all the missing people out there. We need the public to step up and do the right thing and help out.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: It’s very important. I’d like to talk a little bit about DNA and how important that is. You know, Patricia’s Law, like I said, after 30 days they’ll take DNA, but I didn’t even know about that kind of stuff.
TODD: So, she has DNA submitted, right? I mean, there is DNA that could possibly match her.
JIM: Well, I didn’t know but, after being egged and told about it through some law enforcement friends, probably about a year and a half ago they said, “You know you should do this.” So, I found out through my detective what to do and basically, since CODIS is owned by the FBI, my law enforcement contacted the FBI and we got the kids and we had a profile done. We had blood samples from my mother-in-law, Pat’s mom, and she’s 85 years old and I’m thinking, you know she’s not getting any younger, we have to do this. We have to get this profile, so between the 2 kids and her mom, we got the profile for the nuclear and the mitochondrial, and it took all of the 9 months they said it was going to take, but we got it in a database and, of course, the first thing they do is they run the database to see if there are any matches.
TODD: Well, that’s telling me that you have faced the possibility that she might not be alive.
JIM: Well, you know, like I said, I got mitochondrial, which is bone, and nuclear which is if you are alive, of course. So they suggest that you do both.
JIM: Since you are gong through the process anyway…
TODD: Do the whole thing.
JIM: …do the whole thing, right. So, it’s in there, but the point of this is that there are so many unidentified people out there, Jane and John Does.
TODD: There are over 6,000 with the FBI NCIC.
JIM: Right, but the point of this is, in Patricia’s Law, after 30 days, they would initiate the DNA, all right?
TODD: uh hum
JIM: With Pat’s case, we didn’t have this done because we didn’t know about it until 5 years after the fact and, in that time, who knows, we may have found her and there could have been a query done that could have been a match. That’s the importance of having the DNA done right away by putting it in the DNA in the database. I mean you know that there are so many unidentified people out there, and having the DNA for all the missing is so important.
TODD: It’s really something that you can’t hesitate. You really have to consider every possibility. I know that you’re hoping to find her alive and you like to think that she’s alive and you’ve got a good reason to believe that she is alive, but you’ve realized the possibilities and you’ve prepared for them.
JIM: Well, yeah but I’m trying not to go there.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: I mean I really believe that she is still out there and she’s still alive.
TODD: Now, the legal aspect with the 7-year mark?
TODD: That’s next year.
JIM: Yeah. You know what? It’s going to come and go.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And my life is really not going to change, you know? I’m not looking to look towards that route, you know. I’m going to keep going for as long as I’m alive probably. You know there’s no evidence that something bad happened.
TODD: It’s like she just vanished into thin air.
JIM: Yeah, exactly, and that’s the most unbelievable part. With other cases, sometimes they find some kind of evidence of something; you know they might find somebody’s coat or something, anything. But, with Pat, you know, there’s nothing. And I just want to mention, on that day, Pat was wearing her black cloth jacket, blue jeans, white sneakers, you know because it was the winter.
TODD: And you’ve got photographs of these on the website.
JIM: Yeah, I think I have just about everything there. I’ve got a clip on there called ‘Getting To Know Pat’ and it’s actually like a 3 or 4 page file with information about Pat, and within the body of that, you can click on links showing pictures of Pat with her hair, birthmarks on the side of her neck, pictures of the coat, pictures of rings that she was wearing, engagement ring, wedding band, pictures of all that. And all the things she liked to do, all that information is on there; nicknames and that kind of stuff, her medication, tons and tons of information. Let’s see what else.
TODD: Well, you feel like maybe she’s alive and she, willingly…maybe this isn’t a case where she’s willingly done this, could she be still a victim of crime and held against her will? I know that’s had to have occurred to you at some point in time.
JIM: I think everything has crossed my mind.
TODD: It’s not easy to go missing and be completely gone.
TODD: It’s not an easy thing to do.
JIM: Like if she took a fall…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …we would have found her.
TODD: There would be some kind of medical record somewhere.
JIM: Yeah, but I know of cases, who we became very close with, where a gentleman went missing and there was no trace, unfortunately, they found him along side a highway and he was out of sight, you know, so sometimes you can’t see these things. But, we’re hoping that she’s in a hospital or she’s in a rehab center, and there are so many of them. I’ve been to so many of them and I’ve sent letters and flyers. That was probably one of the main reasons that I put the DVD together and the portable player, so I take the portable player with the DVDs and the flyers when I go to the various sites, you know, and seeing the video goes a long way. Unfortunately, at that point, you have to deal with the HIPPA law but you have to work around that also.
TODD: Were there any type of ground searches?
TODD: Can you tell us about that?
JIM: Well the Bogotá Police called in the Sheriff…
TODD: Bergen County Sheriff?
JIM: …Bergen County Sheriff and got them involved and got the State Police involved and they did probably about a 25-mile search from my house and in all 4 directions. Of course, they got helicopters and they searched all the surrounding areas. They searched the cliffs and all kinds of crazy stuff. They even had boats on the river.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: You know, besides banging on doors and stuff like that around the neighborhood, they kind of started on a block and branched out. They were stopping buses and cars on the main drag and this was like the first couple of days and they didn’t get anything. And the detective tells me stuff because I’m good friends with him and we’ve been working it together, so to speak, and we talk from time to time and I basically reach out to him and check up on things. If I have some ideas, I’ll just pass them along to him and he’ll follow up on it, but he does things like…I mean, the case is an open case…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …but it’s really not actively…I mean it’s a small town.
JIM: The resources are really not there. There are 2 detectives in the whole town, so they are not actively searching, per se, right now, but they do things like modifications on the NCIC, which causes the system to run.
TODD: Yeah, and a lot of times it just takes some type of tip to follow up on, to re-prompt the process again.
JIM: Yeah, and they have some new computer systems where they can actually send a color fax out of the flyer to all the police stations and all the towns all around the area, all at one time.
TODD: And that’s a blanket Be On the Look Out, BOLO.
JIM: Yeah, so they’ve improved what they’re doing, and they try and respond as quickly as possible to things, you know. There’s another thing I want to mention that’s really important in my mind, and when it comes to missing adults. Like I mentioned earlier, we’ve got the National Center for Missing Adults…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …there’s another national center, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …the NCMEC, and, you know, to be perfectly honest, the federal government doesn’t treat them the same, okay?
JIM: Now, I’ll give you an example, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children gets funding of upwards of $35,000,000 per year.
TODD: An unreal amount; let me tell you.
JIM: And the National Center for Missing Adults, in an equivalent year, 2006, got $148,000. Now, there’s a bill that was put in on June 6, 2005, and it’s been languishing there: H.R. 2103. Okay, this bill is supposed to re-authorize the Kristen’s Law, which was passed in 2000. This is, basically, to re-authorize it and extend the funding to $4,000,000 a year, for the National Center for Missing Adults, up to 2016.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: It’s been languishing, and nothing’s been happening. So what’s been happening to the National Center for Missing Adults since? Well, they’ve cut their staff; they’re down to 5 people. They had to move out of where they were at, and they’re in a small little building. This National Center for Missing Adults is the only one in the country for adults.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: It’s written into the legislation that the police have to inform the families about it, and the way it’s going, if we don’t get the funding, and we don’t get Bill H.R. 2103 passed, they aren’t going to be around anymore. I just wanted to bring that up.
TODD: Well, I hope that they can get the funding that they need to; they have a little different operation from what I’ve worked in before. I’m one of the administrators of the DoeNetwork, and we get no funding; there is no funding for the DoeNetwork. It’s completely volunteer-operated, and we’ve been able to help with the identification of more than 35 individuals. It can be done. You know people…you can do it. You found that you had to make the time to do this, so I’m hoping that the public will step up and help in any way that they can. It’s very important.
JIM: Yes. That’s a very good point. I mean, the DoeNetwork, I’m very aware of them as well, and they are basically it when it comes to unidentified.
TODD: And we’ve done it without funding.
TODD: You know, I’m not saying that everybody should try that, because it’s not been easy. But, you know, there were so many times we’ve reached in our own pocket, and you make it happen because we make the commitment that we want a better world. We are not going to allow this to happen without doing something, so you have to do it, you have to make a commitment to do it, and we’ve had to do that. So, I’m hoping that, even though we’re losing some resources in some areas, people do step up and say, “No, we’re not going to do this. We’re not going to allow this. We’re going to continue regardless.” It’s important, you know, and usually by the time that people realize it as strongly as you do, you know, it’s…you found out about it the hard way, I’ll say that.
JIM: Yeah. Yeah, you basically go through this…I mean, you’re kind of feeling your way along…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …that’s the way it was for me in the beginning. You know, through the National Center for Missing Adults, they had a message board, and that’s where I actually met a lot of the families and now good friends that are going through the same thing, through that board, you know.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And we’ve stayed close over the years and we kind of help each other out with different ideas, you know, we do for each other. That board and that organization, I mean I found out about them years after the fact, but once I did, they were very helpful. Hopefully, they can stay afloat and they can get some funding and donations, you know, just keep it going because it’s much needed.
TODD: Now can you tell me a little bit about your kids?
JIM: Well, my son, who is my shadow, basically, still, he’s 16.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: And my daughter now is 19 and, like I told you, she’s a Mom. She had her room upstairs and now I kind of…she’s kind of set up down in the basement. Everything seems to be going pretty good. I mean, I think…me and the kids don’t talk about it too much. I know it’s really tough.
TODD: uh huh
JIM: We had an interview, a couple of years back, on the Montel Williams Show and Michael was home, you know they usually don’t even want to be home because it’s so hard for them to talk about it, but on this particular one, Michael was home and they interviewed me and they interviewed Michael, and the emotions came out and can…in fact, when you go on the website, you can hear some audio as it kicks off, you know when you go on Pat’s website…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …toward the tail end of that, you hear Michael. That was taken when he did the interview on the Montel Williams Show. He got pretty emotional when they asked him about Pat.
TODD: So that let’s you know how much they’re holding in.
JIM: That’s what worries me.
TODD: You know it builds up and I think it’s important that they get to release it, and I think you found the benefit of staying busy because, you know, sitting there with idle hands, you know you built this website and, obviously, you’ve spent some time on it; that, as opposed to just sitting there and waiting.
JIM: Oh, I couldn’t even imagine. I definitely keep myself busy. You know, if I’m not working on the website, and I think this is where I keep my sanity.
TODD: Well, you’re doing something. You’re actually doing something that’s truly effective. You know, it’s not just busy work to keep you busy, it’s…
JIM: Well, that’s kind of because I’m sane. I mean, my sanity and I get my satisfaction all by helping out other people.
TODD: And it’s important. It truly is important that you do that.
JIM: You know, somebody has a show coming on and wants it captioned and turned into a clip, I’ll definitely do my best to make it happen and put it up on the website. I have the skill, and really, everybody should have video clips of their loved ones, and I feel that I can do it and I can help them…obviously, you can’t help everybody because there’s 100,000, but you do what you can.
TODD: But it’s important for everybody out there to think, “Do I have enough pictures of my family members that I love, just in case something happens and they’re gone? Do I have enough to actually create a good profile?
JIM: You’re going into another area that’s so important; child ID kits and stuff like that, and I know Project Jason and many, many organizations have that kind of stuff. You can download kits online.
TODD: And, you know, you don’t have to go out and buy them. A lot of people end up buying a lot of things that you can easily…it’s very easy to make these kits, and the information is on the Internet. Just log in and look, and email one of those and we can point you in the right direction, I think.
JIM: You know, the latest picture, and height and weight, and even a video and things like that.
TODD: Well, I’ll make another offer to you now. Of course I work with Project EDAN, Every Deserves A Name, and we do free forensic artwork, free age progression, and so I have a whole team of artists that were so quick to volunteer for this. Pretty much, we just find the available artist that signed on as a volunteer and assign them something, and you know, it’s been 6 years, and I don’t think much has changed in Pat, thus far, but if it continues to go on, you know you’ve got free age progression at any point in time. When you’re ready for it, when it’s time to do this, to actually progress this look that she has, you’ve got it.
TODD: And there’s no cost for that at all. We want to make sure that people get the best idea, and a lot of times we base it on family members, older family members, so anything that you can gather from somebody that looks like her.
JIM: I have the information already because I was working on this. I mean I have pictures of her mother that’s of the age, within months of what Pat would have been not too long ago. I gathered up the information, I had it, then somebody told me that for adults and this time frame, they really don’t do it, and then I kind of backed off. They kind of basically said that the best thing to do is have a profile of the person…
TODD: uh huh
JIM: …and that’s when I put a profile picture of Pat on the website.
TODD: And there will be a point in time where it will become necessary to do it if, you know, unless and I hope, that it becomes not necessary. I hope you find her.
JIM: I know. I don’t even want to think far out. You know what I’m saying?
TODD: That’s definitely something that you keep your mind focused on and have that available. At least that’s hope for the future, you know, if a few more years pass, there are still things that we will be able to do to help.
TODD: But it’s not time for it yet, you know.
JIM: You guys, and all the other organizations out there, I mean I can’t say enough for you guys, with all the help that you provide.
TODD: Well, we try to do good things, but there’s also a selfish factor here too. None of us want to be in your shoes. None of us want to be in your shoes, you know.
JIM: I don’t want any of you to be in my shoes.
TODD: And that’s obvious that you don’t because you’re trying to help people and you know prevention is the only way to do that. Public awareness is the only way to do that. I don’t want the world, the first time that they understand the way you understand a missing person is to experience it personally. I’d rather they hear it from you and decide, “We don’t want any of that. We don’t want that to happen to us. We don’t want people to suffer like that.” because I can’t imagine much more of a painful thing that could happen to anybody.
JIM: It’s such a nightmare and I’m just…
TODD: I mean a house fire pales; car crashes…just any explainable event that could happen in your life, you know people heal and get past it, but this is a wound that’s very difficult to get past because it stays open.
JIM: You know the old saying, what people say, “Watch your kids, because if you don’t, somebody else will be.”
TODD: Absolutely. It’s the truth.
JIM: They’re your kids, you know. Anyway I’m glad you guys are there to help us out and help me get the word out. It’s so important.
TODD: Well, we’re definitely going to stay. You know I work with a lot of different organizations and I’ve seen some very dedicated people and definitely want to keep going with it. You’re going to have a permanent archive on Missing Pieces. Probably we’ll have you back at some point in time, especially if there is an update.
JIM: Sounds good.
TODD: We did an entire hour now, and it’s amazing, and I’m glad you finally got the opportunity to say things that, sometimes, you’re not allowed to do in the media…you’re trimmed back or cut back at some point in time. I think we could have went 2 hours, easy.
JIM: Oh yeah. There are other things, I’m sure. All the things I’ve done, but I’d much rather talk about Pat and focus on her and the website.
TODD: Well, we’ll definitely have to do something again and, at any point in time you say, “I really need to do something,” we can do shorter updates, you know, quick video clips or audio clips that we can add to your archives. It’s just no problem. You just let me know and we’ll do what we can. It’s been a pleasure having you here tonight.
JIM: Oh, thanks so much. When do you think the archive will be up there? A couple days, or…?
TODD: Probably within 24 hours, we will have it up. I appreciate you spending this important day with me.
JIM: Thank you very much, Todd.
TODD: Thank you and good night.
Please Note: Some state lawmakers have proposed a measure requiring police departments to immediately accept any missing person's report, rather than wait a certain period before declaring a person missing. "Patricia's Law" was passed and signed into NJ Law on Jan, 13, 2008
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