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035 - The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone

[Case Evidence]

                Danielle Imbo was born in 1971 and grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, which sits in Camden county and is New Jersey’s 15th most populous municipality. It sits in Delaware valley coastal plain and is approximately eight miles southeast of Philidelphia.  Danielle was first and only daughter of John and Feliz Ottobore  Danielle’s parents would go on to have another child, her younger brother John, named after their father.  The siblings were nearly inseparable both as children and adults,  as John would later state in an interview “Danielle and I were very tight.  We always got along, we always did things together.  My mother as well.  We’d go out on Saturday nights.  Sundays they’d come over for dinner, we’d watch football.  It was a tradition.”  Danielle was described as an incredibly sweet person, with a big heart and a natural inclination to make others feel comfortable and welcome.

                Danielle’s father, John Sr. had a fascinating life, having been both a boxer and doo wop singer in the band the Four Dates where he went by the name Johnny October.  Sadly, Danielle’s father passed away from cancer in 1999.  If one thing became apparent early on, it was that Danielle had inherited not just her father’s talent for singing, but also his passion and love for it.  She was also an avid reader, especially of murder mystery novels and could often be found relaxing with a crossword puzzle.   Danielle would go on to graduate from Cherry Hills High School and proceed on to college.  Her first career was working in car sales, though later she became a mortgage processor which seemed to be the job that most suited and fulfilled her. 

                In her spare time, Danielle pursued her true love, music.  She was the singer in a cover band that played through New Jersey and Philidelphia, and was described as emulating Janis Joplin’s sound, that powerful, raspy voice would take control of the stage and grip the audience.  Those who knew and loved her said that Danielle truly seemed at home on the stage and that she often spoke glowingly about her deep passion for music.  In 2001, while working at a car dealership, Danielle met and fell in love with Joe Imbo.  The two really seemed to hit it off together, and while Danielle had new love in her life, she also felt more enthralled with her music career.  Perhaps that’s why it came as a surprise to friends and family when in 2002, shortly after marrying Joe, Danielle gave up her dream and quit the band.  When asked about this by her family, Danielle explained that Joe had requested she drop out of the band, expressing to her that they were married now and it wasn’t becoming of a wife to be out at clubs and bars with rowdy crowds singing into the late night hours.  Whether or not Danielle truly agreed with Joe, we may never know, but taking her vows seriously and wanting to make him happy, she did just that.

                In addition to honoring her husband, Danielle also wanted to be a mother and she and Joe were working on having a child.  She knew that if she were to become pregnant, her singing would need to take a back seat to her role as a mother.  Despite Danielle’s attempts to keep peace and to make Joe happy, the strife within their marriage was apparent and the more time went on, the harder it became to keep the balance.  Two years after they married, in 2003, Danielle gave birth to a son, Joe Jr and it was at this point that she truly felt she had found her life’s purpose.  She commented to her family, in the delivery room, as she held her newborn son, that she now knew what it meant to be completely in love with someone.  As if often the case in troubled marriages, the birth of a child, while a beautiful event, added more stress to the relationship and when Joe Jr. was only months old, Danielle and Joe separated.

                The context of what led to their separation was described as being a relationship that involved a great deal of arguments and that it was, in fact, Joe who requested it.  According to an article about Danielle, in early 2004, Joe had tickets to the Superbowl.  That weekend, both Joe Jr. and Danielle came down ill, but rather than stay home and help take care of them, Joe left town and flew to New Orleans for the game.  According to reports of the time, Joe, upon his return home, explained to Danielle that he wasn’t happy with their marriage and had met someone new on the plane to New Orleans.  He moved out rather quickly and relocated to Georgia.

                The separation was hard on Danielle, and though she found comfort in Joe Jr, she couldn’t help but be hit by waves of depression and anxiety.  Her interactions with Joe had become more volatile and while she didn’t want her son to grow up with divorced parents, she also knew that it was better for him to have two loving parents who were happy but separated rather than two who were constantly fighting but still sharing the same home.  Danielle would eventually move into a condo in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and enter a dark period of depression.  She found it hard to get up and go, and according to her brother, she began chainsmoking cigarettes and spending a great deal of time home.  Joe and Danielle worked out a shared custody agreement, and while she may have been feeling the weight of her sadness, she was always overjoyed and delighted when Joe Jr. was with her.  She was a good, doting mother, who wanted the best for her son and did everything she could to keep him happy.

                In order to provide a more stable home life for her son, Danielle spoke to her employer and they agreed to allow her to work from home.  Given this newfound freedom, things were looking up for Danielle and she now had an office in her condo where she processed mortgages and handled her business over the internet.  It was during this period of her life that she leaned heavily on friends and family, with her mother and brother saying that she frequently called and would be crying on the phone with them.  They did their best to comfort her, and though Danielle was despondant, she was determined to find her way through it and provide a beautiful life for Joe Jr. 

Danielle’s close, childhood friend, Christine Petrone, was also going through a separation at the time and the two bonded more closely than ever.  They had been friends since they were fifteen years old and had gone through so much together.  While divorce can be an incredibly difficult task, they each found comfort knowing that this was yet another experience they would be sharing.  They became each others support system, and ultimately, their friendship would lead Danielle into a happier place.

                In July of 2004, Danielle went over to Christine’s place.  The two were frequently spending time together, talking about their past, sharing laughs and also opening up about their depression and the difficulties of their divorces.  They would trade stories about the actions of their exes, the statements of lawyers, the entire process in general and they would share a few glasses of wine and unwind after a busy few days balancing work, children and emotional battles.  One night in particular, Christine’s brother Richard stopped by to share a drink.  Richard and Danielle had known one another for as long as Danielle and Christine had been friends, and though there was a familiarity there, others have said something more lingered beneath the surface.  In her youth, friends have said, Danielle had a crush on Richard but she never pursued it, perhaps due to shyness, or Richard’s obsession and dedication to hockey which kept him so busy, but on this night, the sparks flew and there was an obvious chemistry between them.

                Richard Petrone lived in Philadelphia, and was described by many as an incredibly kind and caring person.  He was born to parents Marge and Richard Petrone Sr.  Many who knew him commented on Richard’s compassion for others, and his interest in bringing smiles to the faces of friends and family.  He was smart as a child, excelling in his studies and he had a true passion for sports, specifically hockey where he was a dedicated fan of the Philadelphia Flyers.  One friend told a story about painting a mural of Bobby Clarke above Richard’s bed for him, and many on a website dedicated to him, RichardPetrone.com, commented on how much he played hockey and his intense love for the game. 

                The second closest passion to Richard’s heart was music.  Richard was constantly attended clubs to see local bands, though his favorite musician of all time was Bruce Springsteen.  Anytime Bruce was coming to town, it was almost a certainty that Richard was going to be at the show.  Despite his intense passion for both music and hockey, Richard’s life was much more calm and relaxed than you’d find in an concert or on the ice.  He was a laid back guy who didn’t have much of a temper, and he simply wanted to take care of those he loved and make the best future he possibly could.  After graduating from high school, Richard went on to culinary school to get himself prepared to work in the family business.  His parents owned Viking Bakery, located on Ardmore avenue in Pennsylvania and he wanted to continue that tradition someday.

                When Richard was 23 he was involved in a relationship with a woman named Julie, and although they would eventually go their separate ways, they would become permanently bonded by the birth of their daughter, Angela.  Hockey and music took a quick backseat to Angela, as Richard was completely in love with his daughter and there was nothing in his life more important than her.  In an interview, Richard’s mother Marge stated “He was a wonderful parent.  He wanted to be her father, be her role model, be there for her.”  Julie had a busy life, and worked a lot, and in order to make things easier on her, he suggested that he take custody of Angela during the week while she was working, and then on the weekend she would spend time with her mother.  He moved into the apartment located right above the family business and began his career at the bakery.  His parents said he was an incredibly hard worker, helping out in all aspects of the business, though where he really excelled was cake decoration and that he made incredibly beautiful wedding cakes.

                Richard dedicated his life to Angela, spending all of his free time doting on his daughter.  They spent a great deal of time together whether it was playing softball, helping her complete her homework or simply lounging around the house watching tv together.  He passed on his love of hockey to Angela, as well as his intense passion for music.  When she was old enough, Bruce Springsteen was coming to town and he was intent on bringing Angela to see the Boss.  They went to the concert, and Angela said that Richard sang along to every song and was having an incredible time.  She described it as one of the best nights of his life, and one of most cherished memories of her father. 

                When Angela became a teenager, Richard began to notice her beginning to make the transition from a little girl into a young woman.  It was at this point that she felt that pull to spend more time around her mother, and Richard agreed feeling that it was important she have the best of both parents in her life.  Angela moved out of the upstairs apartment, and in with her mother Julie, but Richard made sure he saw his daughter as often as possible.  According to friends, the two most important people in his life were his daughter and his mother, and he spoke to both on the phone frequently.  Marge would later say that she and her son must have spoken on the phone at least two to three times a day, discussing all manner of details about their lives and laughing.  It was very close to this time that Richard and Danielle reconnected and their relationship was about to begin.  They both had voids to fill, with Danielle going through a divorce and Richard’s day to day life no longer involving countless hours spent with Angela.

                Richard and Danielle hit it off and began a slow, but loving courtship.  They spent a lot of time together and found comfort and solace in each other.  The night they met at Christine’s place, Richard had invited both women out to a local club to experience some local bands.  Christine wasn’t interested in going, but Danielle was game and together they bonded over their love of music.  Richard was thirty-five years old when he met Danielle, and she was thirty-four.  They had known each other, in some form or fashion, for more than half of their lives and to those around them, it only made sense for them to find this connection.  Richard’s mother, Marge, later stated “It was going well, he really liked her.  She could stay home with a pizza and a beer, just like Richard and they kick off their shoes and watch a movie.  They really had a lot in common.”

                Their relationship was easy going, but there were some complications.  Danielle was still on the emotional rollercoaster of her divorce, and sometimes found it difficult to be there completely in the way that she knew Richard deserved.  Despite her interest in him, she considered it more important that she be a good mother to Joe Jr. first and that often meant needing to take time to process her feelings.  Richard understood the situation was complex, and gave Danielle a no pressure relationship where they would see each other when they could and if things didn’t work out one day, they’d reschedule for another.  What made it even more complicated was that, just months after leaving, Danielle’s soon to be ex-husband, Joe, had returned from George, his new relationship finished, and was again making attempts to rekindle his relationship with Danielle.  She didn’t know what to do, and sought comfort from those who loved her.  While she still had feelings for Joe, she knew that they were better off apart than they were together, and she was now experiencing feelings for Richard as well.

                According to friends and family, Danielle was distraught over Joe’s attempts to rekindle their relationship.  She was seeing Richard now, and although things were fairly new and it hadn’t developed into a full blown romance yet, she wasn’t sure what to do.  Joe allegedly would come by Danielle’s apartment to try and convince her to give him another chance, though these conversations typically broke down into full blown arguments.  On one particular day there has been a story reported that Joe is suggested to have thrown his son’s high chair into the wall, though Joe denies this ever happened.  Following subsequent incidents, Danielle’s brother John came to her condo and changed out all of the locks on her door.  Taking things a step further, he contacted Joe for a meeting and exchanged a few words with his former brother-in-law.  John later stated “The message was that he needed to be civil.”

                In early 2005, Danielle found herself to the point where she could no longer deal with the emotional turmoil on either side of the equation, and she told both Joe and Richard that she needed space and didn’t think it was the time for her to be romantically involved with anyone.  She needed to dedicate herself to being a mother, to provide for Joe Jr. as best she could and that her relationship with him was far more important than anything she had with either of them.  Both men acquiesced to her desire for space, though it has been reported that Richard was more emotionally connected to Danielle than she was to him.  He took it hard, but he accepted things as they were and for the most part, assumed that after some time had passed and Danielle had a chance to clear her mind, they’d reconnect. 

                Valentines day passed without any contact with Richard and Danielle, he continued to honor her wishes and didn’t reach out to disturb her.  Although Richard was dealing with things in his own way, there was still that pull to speak to Danielle and to give things another shot.  However, on Saturday, February 19th, 2005, Richard had plans to meet his good friend Anthony Valentio, and his wife Michelle, for a few drinks at Abilene Restaurant and Roadhouse Blues Bar, located on South Street in Philadelphia.  The plan was simply, get together, have a couple of drinks and listen to some live music.  Though it was a longshot, Richard decided to ask Danielle if she’d be interested in coming out for a drink.  To his surprise, she agreed, and not too much later, Richard was outside of her condo in his black 2001 Dodge Dakota ready to make the twenty-five mile drive from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey to South Street, near fifth avenue, in Philadelphia.

                Richard and Danielle arrived at the bar and met up with Anthony and Michelle.  According to Anthony, when the couple walked in, Richard had his arm around Danielle and they both were smiling and seemed happy.  Other than that, it was an average night and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.  They hung out, listened to music and shared a few drinks.  The bar was crowded that night, South Street was often very busy on the weekends but, in this particular case, it was the weekend of presidents day so many people were out partying and banking on a three day weekend.  Due to the crowd, Danielle and Michelle took seats at the bar while Richard and Anthony stood behind them.  When the bands began to play, all four turned around to watch the show and exchanged comments in loud whispers.  When the music came to a conclusion, Anthony and Michelle invited Danielle and Richard to take a walk down the street with them to another bar where more bands were going to be playing, but they turned down the offer.  Both had Important plans the next day, they were going to be seeing their kids and they didn’t want to be too tired to enjoy their time together.  In an interview Anthony stated “It was kind of a normal night.  We were sitting by the bar, and they just left, we just hugged and said goodbye.”

                According to statements from Anthony, Richard informed him that he was going to be driving Danielle home to her condo in Mt. Laurel before turning around and going back to his place.  It wasn’t a long drive, and Richard hadn’t had too many drinks that evening so there didn’t seem to be anything to worry about.  Richard commented to Anthony that he had found a really close parking space on South Street, which was incredibly lucky considering the crowds of people walking the street that night.  He was moreso pleased with his parking space because it was a bitterly cold night, just twenty-six degrees, and he and Danielle wouldn’t have to walk too far before getting into the warmth of his truck.  The four friends said goodbye, they’d see each other again soon but neither Anthony nor Michelle had any indication that this would be the last time they would ever see their friends.  Danielle and Richard are reported to have left the bar at 11:45pm.  They began their walk towards Richard’s truck and seemingly vanished into the night.

                For the remainder of that night, no one has any reason to suspect that something had gone wrong.  Richard and Danielle were both adults, and considering that it was nearly midnight when they left, no one expected a phone call.  The next morning, Sunday, February 20th, Danielle’s brother John arrived at her condo.  The last time Joe Jr. had been at the condo he had been playing and grabbed onto Danielle’s curtains, yanking them down and ripping the curtain rods off the walls.  Danielle had asked him to come by and fix the issue, but when he arrived, Danielle wasn’t home.  He placed a call to her cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail.  He found this odd, since Danielle’s phone was always on, but he assumed that perhaps the battery had died.  He knocked on the door, but got no answer.

                Somewhat concerned, John placed a call to his mother to ask if she’d heard from Danielle.  Feliz explained that she hadn’t heard from her, but that Danielle had told her she was going out with Richard the night before.  She assumed that, if Danielle wasn’t home, there was a good chance she had spent the night at his place.  Satisfied with this answer, John used his spare key to enter the condo.  He found it clean and undisturbed.  Danielle’s bed was made and there was no indication that anyone had been there the night before.  Danielle was a smoker, and even her ashtrays were clean and empty.  Though he found the situation a little odd, John had no reason to suspect anything was wrong and completed his repair job before locking the door behind him and driving home.

                The next indication that somewhat was wrong was at approximately 11am.  Danielle had made a hair appointment at the salon where her good friend, and Richard’s sister, Christine worked and she failed to arrive for her appointment.  According to friends and family, Danielle was an extremely punctual person and it was incredibly unlike her to miss an appointment without calling ahead.  Christine decided to wait a few minutes, but when Danielle failed to arrive, she placed a call to her cell phone.  Again, it went straight to voicemail.  Somewhat concerned, she decided to call her brother and see if he had any idea of where Danielle may be, but when she called him, his cell phone also went straight to voicemail.  It was incredibly rare for Richard’s phone to not be on, so she immediately called her parents to ask if they’d heard from Richard, but no one had.

                Marge Petrone was used to hearing from her son every day, and usually more than once.  By 11:30am, and after Christine’s call, she had become tremendously concerned.  She later told reporters that it was motherly instinct, she just knew that something was wrong.  She tried to call Richard several times, but the calls continued to go straight to voicemail.  Richard had told her earlier that he was having friends over Sunday for a small party to watch Nascar, so she assumed that perhaps he was home getting ready and didn’t hear his phone.  At this point, she placed a call to Richard’s aunt who was in the area of the bakery and asked if she could stop by Richard’s upstairs apartment and see if he was home.  She agreed and went, knocking on the door but no one answered.  Richard had a dog at the time and she could hear him barking inside, but nothing else. 

Richard’s aunt called Marge and informed her that it didn’t appear that Richard was home, and judging from the barking of the dog, she thought he hadn’t come home last night as it sounded like the dog needed to be let out.  Marge next called Richard’s good friend, Anthony Valentino and asked if he knew where her son was.  Anthony explained that, as far as he knew, Richard was going to be driving Danielle home to her condo and there was a good chance he had spent the night there.  At this point, Marge decided to call Danielle’s phone, but as she was planning to do so her phone rang and it was Danielle’s mother, Feliz.  This was the first time both families became aware that neither side knew where Richard or Danielle were and their worry was slowly transforming into panic.  The event which sent Danielle’s family over the edge into full blown panic was when Danielle failed to arrive home in time for Joe to drop off their son, something she would never miss out on.

John had gone to Danielle’s apartment to be there for the dropoff of Joe Jr. which was set to happen at 3pm. When Danielle’s ex-husband knocked on the door, he was surprised to find John there.  He asked where Danielle was, and not wanting to cause a problem, John lied and said that she was out with Christine and had asked him to be there to look after Joe Jr.  Though he found it out, Joe dropped off their son and went about his business.  John would later state “She wouldn’t have missed that, no way.”  At this point, John’s concern could no longer be contained and he called the Philadelphia police, as well as the New Jersey police, and filed a missing persons report.  Richard’s parents were on a very similar thought trajectory, and they two phoned in a missing persons report on their son.  Immediately after getting off the phone, they began calling around to local hospitals checking to see if either of them had been admitted as the result of an accident, but no hospitals had any records of Danielle or Richard being admitted.

At 7pm that evening, John could no longer sit around and found himself incredibly panicked and frustrated.  He decided to make the short drive from Danielle’s condo the Petrone family’s home.  John spoke to Marge and Richard Senior about their missing loved ones and after several minutes of discussion, Richard Sr told John that they should hop in his truck and make the drive to Philadelphia, and take a look for themselves.  John agreed feeling that there could be any number of innocuous reasons for their absence and perhaps they’d find someone who had seen them, or better yet, some sign of Richard’s truck.  When they arrived in Philadelphia they went to South Street, and the bar Danielle and Richard had been at the night before, Abilene’s, but no one reported any sightings of the two.  They drove around for hours, checking every side street and back alley but found no signs of them.  They knew, from Anthony, that Richard had parked close to the bar, but Anthony had not actually seen Richard’s parking space that night, so it could have been anywhere.

Eventually, they stopped at the four police precincts in Philadelphia to talk to investigators about the missing couple, but it was far too early in the investigation for much information to be readily available.  Left feeling empty by the lack of leads or information, the two men got back into Richard Sr’s truck and began driving towards Danielle’s condo.  They had no way of knowing which route they would have drove, so they tried them all.  There are four bridges in the area which span the Delaware river and connect to New Jersey, any of which could have been taken.  They drove all four bridges, though they felt the Benjamin Franklin or Walt Whitman bridges were most likely.  They looked for signs of an accident, and they looked down to see if it was possible the truck had gone into the river, but they found nothing.  They returned home at dawn.

Philadelphia and New Jersey police departments first issued an All Points Bulletin on Richard’s truck in hopes that someone would spot it.  They also contacted the FBI to expedite access to the couples cell phone records in hopes of tracking them via calls and pings.  In addition to this, they requested access to each person’s financial records hoping to track their comings and goings.  They found that Richard used cash most frequently, but that Danielle often used credit cards and her debit card but there was no activity on either account which gave them a general direction to go.  In the thirteen years since their disappearance, there has never been any activity on either their bank accounts or social security numbers. 

Initially, ten officers were assigned to the case and they began by canvassing the area of South Street near Abilenes.  They spoke to bar patrons, people on the street and business owners but no one had any recollection of seeing either Richard or Danielle after they left the bar that night.  At the time, there were a limited number of surveillance cameras along South Street, and though they pulled the footage, at no point did they see any signs of Richard or Danielle.  They next went to the toll booths for the bridges connecting to New Jersey, but in 2005, camera were only installed on the inbound side meaning that if Danielle and Richard had driven out of Pennsylvania, in to New Jersey, there were no cameras on that side.  Regardless, they did examine the inbound cameras and again came up empty handed.

The next step for investigators was to thoroughly question all associates, friends and family members.  They hoped that someone would remember something, or have information that might lead them to answers about where Danielle and Richard may be.  At this early stage in the investigation, authorities were not initially leaning towards foul play.  They considered several options including that the couple may have gotten sidetracked and elected to go off somewhere together, or that there may have been an accident with them driving off the road into a ditch, wooded area or possibly even the Delaware river, which happens more often than you’d think.  The first person they grabbed onto for a more thorough questioning session was Richard’s good friend, Anthony Valentino.

Anthony was called by the Philadelphia police department to come down to the station where he was ushered into an interrogation room and thoroughly questioned.  They asked him if he had any information about where Richard could be, if he’d seen anything suspicious the night before and if Richard had anything in his background which may have made him a target for foul play.  Anthony was unable to provide many answers for as far as he knew everything was fine.  Ultimately, Anthony was questioned multiple times and voluntarily took a polygraph test, which he passed.  Authorities ruled him out as having any involvement in the crime, though they did express that they questioned him more than a few times in hopes that he may remember a detail that he hadn’t previously recalled.

Within the first forty-eight hours, authorities began to shift on their theory, feeling that this was likely a case of foul play.  They felt that it was highly unlikely that two people and a large truck could simply vanish and someone else wasn’t involved somehow.  One officer who spoke to John about the search is alleged to have stated “No one is ever going to find anything.  It’s too clean.”  Regardless, volunteers amassed, made up of friends and family, and began papering every power poll, business and street between Abilenes and Mt. Laurel with missing persons fliers which included photos of Danielle and Richard, as well as an image of his black 2001 Dodge Dakota with its Nascar decal and its license plate number:  YFH-2319.  Two weeks after the disappearance, through family connections and with $1200, John got a Camden police helicopter pilot to take him up for a birds eye view of the area in hopes of seeing something.  They flew up and down the Delaware river and made notes of anything they suspected could be the truck, later checking them on foot, but ultimately came up empty handed.  By the third week, the FBI took over the case, believing they could more easily coordinate a task force and gather information from police departments in Philadelphia and New Jersey more concisely.

Investigators began digging into the missing couples private lives and pasts at this point.  They thought it possible that one or both had mixed up with a bad crowd, or would have something in their past, to indicate someone out looking for revenge.  They were unable to find anything out the ordinary in eithers life with both appearing to be clean cut single parents with no skeletons in their closets.  One thing interesting they did find in their search, though, were the activities of Danielle’s ex-husband, Joe Imbo.  According to their investigation, they discovered that Joe knew Danielle’s voicemail passcode and had accessed it on multiple occasions from his residence.  In addition to this they found records of calls from Joe’s phone to Richards as well as the phone of Viking Bakery.  They later were informed that Joe had called Richard several times, warning him to stay away from his wife.

As a result of these discoveries, Joe became the next focus for investigators.  They spoke to him on several occasions in order to establish whether or not he could have been involved in the disappearance of his ex-wife.  Joe had an alibi for the night the crime took place, having been at a family birthday party more than fifty miles away at the time Danielle and Richard vanished.  His alibi has been described as rock solid as, present at the party, were Joe’s stepfather, an ex-New York Policeman, as well as several currently active police.  Despite this alibi, Joe was given a polygraph test, but oddly, when asked about this, the investigator in charge of the case, FBI Special Agent Vito Roselli would not disclose the results of the polygraph and only stated “I don’t have evidence to arrest Joe.  I have also not ruled him out.”

Set back to square one with no leads and no suspects, investigators and the families were frustrated and grieving.  While initially strongly bonded together, these families which had been connected for nearly twenty years slowly began to turn and accusations began to fly from both sides with the Ottobre’s arguing that Danielle was an innocent girl and her disappearance must have something to do with Richard.  The Petrones argued that Richard was a good man who had never done drugs, nor been involved in any criminal activities.  They felt betrayed by the Ottobre family, feeling that their son was being framed as some member of the criminal underworld who was involved in activities that could have led to their disappearance.  Despite earlier information from investigators that they felt neither victim had anything to indicate a dark connection, the families severed and to this day will not speak to one another.

Investigators began to believe it was possible that Danielle and Richard had fallen victim to a local car theft ring and that they may have been carjacked and murdered, with the truck being sent to a chop shop where it was mutilated beyond recognition.  The previous year, in 2004, over 13,000 vehicles were stolen in the Philadelphia area.  Acting jointly with the Philadelphia stolen car square, FBI experts set out to locate the truck.  Both agencies tapped local informants for information, but no one seemed to know anything about Danielle and Richard, nor Richard’s truck.  It was as if all three had simply vanished into thin air with no trace that they’d ever been here to begin with.  Several weeks into the investigation authorities received a tip about a broken gate near the Delaware river.  It appeared as though someone had driven through it, and it was along one of the probable routes that Richard may have taken that night.  A team of divers searched in that area of the river for hours, and while they found many vehicles beneath the water, Richard’s truck was not one of them.

In March, less than a month after the disappearance, Felice Ottobre received a strange phone call.  An alleged psychic had called and explained that Danielle was being held prisoner in an abandoned train boxcar beneath a bridge in Philadelphia.  Felice called John, who immediately contacted authorities.  They explained to him that they would look into it, but that it was unlikely they’d find anything.  John explained that he was going to check it himself and while authorties warned him not to, John felt he had to.  He scaled a fence at midnight and, alone with only a flashlight, searched through many abandoned box cars in what he described as a train graveyard. 

John found one boxcar with the door shut, but after forcing it open, he discovered it empty.  Authorities arrived and brought him back to the station, explaining to him how dangerous what he had done had been and how he could have easily been set up and where would his family be if he too went missing.  Since the passing of his father, John felt he was responsible and stated “I felt like I was the man of the family, like maybe it was even up to me to find my sister.”

A few weeks later, a volunteer party consisting of more than fifty people combed through abandoned woods and wilderness in areas that were along the routes Richard may have taken.  They searched everywhere looking for any signs of the missing couple, but nothing was found.  For the next several months there would be no new information, no leads and sadly no signs of Richard or Danielle.  On the six month anniversary of their disappearance, a candlelight vigil was held outside of Abilenes.  Made up of friends and family, they gathered with signs and fliers about Danielle and Richard.  They came together in hopes that someone would speak up, or remember something, but it was to no avail. 

A few weeks later, the Philadelphia police department discovered a 2001, black dodge Dakota submerged in the Delaware river while on an unrelated investigation.  Someone alerted the media and in hopes of not wanting to blindside the families, Special Agent Roselli contacted them.  He was very clear that it was far too early to know if this was Richard’s truck, but they knew it was the same make and model.  Marge Petrone sent a friend down to the site, she couldn’t bare to go herself and John was also there.  It took the crew over four hours to remove the vehicle from the river, and when they did, it had a different license plate.  In the hope of being thorough, they double checked the trucks VIN number and it did not match Richard’s.  While the families were relieved, they were also saddened as yet again there had been a little glimmer of hope that they’d find an answer, but it was snuffed out.

Weeks began turning into months, and months into years.  The disappearance of Danielle and Richard remained a haunting case, unsolved and with no clear indications of where else investigators could look.  As the case grew cold, investigators grew more and more frustrated believing thoroughly that foul play was involved, and someone out there knew exactly what had happened.  They simple had no one to pin it on and no one to corroborate their theory.  They believe that Richard and Danielle were either kidnapped, or murdered.  By February of 2008, nearly three years to the day that they disappeared, the FBI held a press conference and released a statement.  FBI spokesman Jerry Williams ruled out the kidnapping theory, stating “Because of the fact that for a kidnapping we haven’t received a ransom request, no extortion, nothing to indicate that it was a kidnapping.”

Williams went on to explain that they had new leads and information, though he wouldn’t disclose what it was.  When asked about the breadth and expanse of the investigation he explained that new information had led them into other states, not just Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and that they felt every day they were getting closer to finding the answers that everyone was looking for.  Williams did, however, express that no arrests were imminent and that there was still a $100,000 reward available for information leading to Danielle and Richard’s whereabouts and any suspects who may have been involved in the crime.   Several more years would pass with little new information being released.

In 2010, Robert Carey was being held in prison in connection with a Kensington area prescription pill drug ring.  Carey had been rumored to be a hitman, and rumors were abounding that he had played a role in the disappearance of Danielle and Richard.  Certainly a brutal and violent criminal, those around him often dismissed the speculation explaining that though Robert was not above taking money in exchange for assaulting someone, he had never made this same deal in exchange for murder.  Carey would eventually commit suicide while incarcerated by hanging himself with shoe laces.  There was speculation at the time that a suicide note had been left behind which either mentioned Danielle and Richard, or described their murders, but multiple sources who have read the note have dismissed that saying there was nothing like that written.  Special Agent Roselli, when asked about Carey, explained that just because Carey wasn’t known to be a murderer, it isn’t impossible to imagine he could have set out to deliver a beating and things got carried away.  As far as he is concerned, Carey could still be a viable suspect but following his suicide it would be much more difficult to find proof.

Another suspect who entered Roselli’s sights for a period of time was a man named Anthony Rosesky.  Rodesky is described as a strong, thick bodied killer with a notable swastika tattoo on his shaved head.  Rodesky was ultimate arrested charged and convicted of a unrelated incidents when he was found to have murdered two men in the process of robbing them, both incidents occurring on separate occasions.  According to Roselli, he considered Rodesky a likely suspect and pushed hard for inquiries regarding Danielle and Richard.  As a result of his pressure, authorities searched his home, dug up his basement and even sifted through his septic tank but came out with no evidence or clues that would link the violent killer to the missing couple.  Roselli would go on to state “I wish I had more to say, but the truth is, we don’t know what happened.”  More years would pass, and still answers seemed to be forever out of reach.

Nearing the ten year anniversary of the disappearance, in February of 2015, the FBI once again had a press conference, this time being a little more clear about what they believe happened.  In their opinion this was a case of murder for hire involving at least two professional hitmen.  Christian Zajac, an FBI agent, stated “We feel this was an orchestrated act.  A 3,000 pound truck and two people do not simply go missing.”  Special Agent JJ Klaver added “It’s unlikely based on law enforcement experience that this was a simple crime of opportunity.  It also seems unlikely, although not impossible, that one person acting alone could pull this off so successfully.  We feel confident that somebody knows something about this that they have never shared with anybody.  We are looking to shake the trees a bit.”  The case was officially shifted into the FBI’s cold case initiative which lends more time and resources to the investigation.

At this announcement, authorities explained that while they have ruled out possible scenarios, they are unable to develop a truly likely scenario for motive in this case.  When asked about Joe Imbo, the FBI responded that no one has been ruled out as a suspect in the case.  They did, however, make it clear that they no longer believe that an accident is a likely scenario, with Zajac stating “Given the logical route they would have taken from South Philly to Mount Laurel, it is very unlikely that this would be some sort of accident.”  Richard’s mother, Marge, attended the announcement.  When asked what she thought about it, she responded “Ten years is too long to not have some justice for two people who did nothing wrong and didn’t deserve this.  He was my son, he was a father, a brother and he’s missed every single day.”

In 2016, Dr. William O’Brien was charged with conspiring with the motorcycle gang, the Pagans, in a multi-million dollar prescription drug pill scam.  One of O’Briens co-defendants, Pagan member Patrick Treacy was questioned about his possible knowledge or connection to a double homicide.  During trial, audio of this interrogation was played and many came to believe that it was possible the double homicide being discussed was that of Danielle and Richard.  The man asking the questions?  FBI Special Agent Vito Roselli.  When asked if the interrogation was referring to the missing couple, or to a different unsolved double homicide, that of Anthony Rongione and Michael Spering, a spokesman for the FBI would only respond that the questioning was possible related to both.  On the tape Treacy only states that he did not kill anyone, and when he is offered a possible plea bargain he explains that he’d rather take his chances in court.

It has been thirteen years since Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone left the Abilene on South Street in Philadelphia, never to be seen again.  In the wake of their disappearances, life has gone on for their families, though not easily.  Danielle’s brother John still speeds up anytime he sees a black dodge Dakota, hoping one day he’ll find the right one.  His mother is still heartbroken, and can barely speak when asked about her daughter.  John says she wakes up every morning and cries.  Danielle’s son who was eighteen months old when she vanished is now fourteen, and has no true recollection of her outside of stories and pictures.  He gets to visit with his moms side of the family for one week, twice a year.  John explains that it is lovely and painful as Joe Jr reminds him so much of his sister.  He later stated “When he asks about his mom, we tell him she’s an angel in heaven.  We don’t say anything about her being missing, but he’s getting older and I don’t know how long that can last.” 

For the Petrone family, it has been equally horrifying.  Richard Sr. wakes up every day at approximately 2am to go in to work at the family bakery.  He often takes detours on the way to work, covering the same ground that his son vanished from in hopes that someday he’ll find something.  Richard Sr. has taken to writing about his son in the form of poetry, but breaks down into tears when he tried to verbalize his feelings.  Richards mother, Marge, is a little more open to speaking, but the power of her pain is immeasurable as she states “We’re in so much pain that we could kill ourselves tomorrow.  But then I wouldn’t know what happened to my son.  And that’s what keeps me going.  To find out what happened and to see justice done.”

There is one other bright spot in the Petrones lives, that of Richard’s daughter, Angela.  Fourteen when her father vanished, each day since then has been a difficult burden of having lost not only her father, but her best friend.  Today, Angela is 27 and works her fathers old job, in the family run bakery.  She hopes that she can fill in for him, live up to his expectations and make him proud.  She’s a mother now, with a son named Timothy, and she understands how much her father loved her every time she looks at Tim.  Her pain is immense, but she persists because he’d want her to.  She speaks to Timothy often about the Grandfather he’s never met, and how wonderful he was.

The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petron is an extremely bizarre story.  How do two people simple vanish without a trace, along with a large black truck, from a busy street, and no one seems to know or have seen anything?  As you might expect, in a case such as this, numerous theories have risen to the surface over the years, from the police, the families and online investigators.  It’s a story that has captivated many, continues to live on today.  As is often the case of missing adults.  The first theory is that Danielle and Richard, looking to get away from it all and start a new life, elected to run off.

The second theory is that Danielle and Richard were victims of an accident which has yet to be discovered.  Many believe it’s possible that the truck could have driven off the road and into the Delaware river, and that the couple perished as a result of their injuries.  For many, this successfully explains why not only have bodies never been found, but the vehicle also.

The third theory is that Joe Imbo, Danielle’s ex-husband has somehow played a role in the disappearance.  Opinions vary, but some feel Joe may have hired someone to abduct or murder the couple, while others feel that Joe himself may have concocted an alibi in order to have taken action into his own hands, possibly with the assistance of others. 

The fourth and final theory spans a wide array of suspects and possibilities under the assumption that this was a case of murder.  There are varying branches to that theory, with some supporting the FBI’s claim that it may have been a murder for hire situation carried out by professionals, and others feeling that it could have simply been a random act of violence committed during the process of a car jacking or robbery. Either way, the argument has been made that Danielle and Richard were likely murdered and their bodies concealed or disposed of.

When last seen, Danielle Imbo was described as a Caucasian female with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.  She was thirty-four years old and stood approximately 5’5” tall, weighing 118 pounds.  She has a tattoo of flowers on her lower back and a small gap between her two front teeth.  On the night she vanished she was wearing a cream colored sweater, a dark colored jacket, blue jeans with three silver rings on one of her middle fingers and she carried a black purse with two handles.  Today Danielle would be forty-seven years old.

Richard Petron Jr. is described as being a Caucasian male with brown hair and blue eyes.  He was thirty five at the time and stood 5’9” tall and weighed approximately 200 pounds.  His daughter’s name, Angela, is tattooed on his left bicep and he also has a tattoo of clowns on his right bicep.  Richard wears glasses and when last seen had a beard and mustache.  On the night he vanished Richard was wearing a gray, hooded polo sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers.  Today Richard would be forty-eight years old.

Thirteen years after their disappearance and the answers remain as blank as they were the day they vanished.  Their families have experienced intense pain, and their bonds of solidary forged in grief have been severed with anger and the pain of unknowing.  Two children are growing up in the world without a mother and a father respectively, never knowing why, and having to live with the question every day.  It is an extremely haunting case, that only becomes more and more difficult to examine with each year that passes.  Authorities have never given up, and continue to investigate leads, question individuals and develop possibilities.  Perhaps someday their hard work will pay off, and someone will find speak up about his or her knowledge of what happened that cold February night in 2005.  Perhaps their families will be given answers, and a chance at justice for the ones they love.  Until then, the disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petron remains open and unsolved.

[Thoughts & Theories]

                The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone is a case that I’ve been following for a while.  When it first became news back in 2005 I was still living in New York and our local news covered it.  I remember thinking how strange it was that two people could just disappear like that, along with a truck, and there wasn’t anymore information available.  I had my own theories back then, as most people did, but the more time passed the more those theories began to change.  It felt like, with each passing year, the possibilities were narrowed down further and further.  I’ve checked in on the details over the years, and I’ve tried to keep up with all of the new information that’s been released.  When I began my research for this episode, I thought I had a fairly good grip on the details but the more I dug in, the more I found.  This is certainly one of those cases that the more you study it the more baffled you become.

                Disappearances are disturbing in general, but I’ve always found that when its more than one person vanishing at the same time, there’s an extra level of mystery and it is much more curious how it’s possible.  We often think that we are safe when someone else is around, but as many cases have shown, that isn’t necessarily true.  Though group disappearances are less frequent, they are somehow more haunting.  In the case of Danielle and Richard, it’s especially confusing how a man and woman can leave a crowded bar on a busy street and simply disappear from the face of the earth without a single shred of information about where they are or what happened to them.  Even after thirteen years, investigators only have theories of what may have happened, and as far as they’ve spoken publicly, not much, if any, hard evidence to support those theories.  There are several possibilities which have gained traction over the years, and as always seems to be the case when adults vanish, the first of those theories is that Danielle and Richard chose to run off.

                The running away theory is something that always has to be looked at.  There are people who have chosen to leave, without telling anyone, and years later have been located.  It certainly happens, though its more rare than we’d be made to believe based around the fact that so many disappearances have this as a theory.  In the case of Danielle and Richard, though, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information to support this possibility.  Supporters of this theory follow the mindset that Danielle and Richard were in love, and that in order to escape her ex-husband, and the chaos and confusion of their daily lives, they made the choice to drive off and find a new place to start over, together.  While this could be the case, it does seem that the possibility altogether is slim.

                Both Danielle and Richard had children, with Danielle’s son being eighteen months old and Richard’s daughter fourteen.  They loved their children more than themselves and sacrificed a great deal for them.  Their friends and family have all pointed out how incredibly important their children were to them, and how they were always there for them.  This fact alone makes it incredibly unlikely that they would have chosen to run off, leaving their children behind.  Both of them had strong connections with their families, jobs that they enjoyed and homes of their own.  These were not two people who were struggling financially and experiencing heavy levels of frustration with their lives.  Yes, Danielle was dealing with a lot in terms of her divorce, but anyone who has been through that situation knows how hard it can be, and she was handling it.  Her depression over it was apparent to those around her, but they also knew how happy she was to spend time with her son and it seems improbable that in order to improve her life she’d let go of the one thing that meant the most to her.

                Richard worked for the family business and had gone to school to sharpen his skills, prepared to take over someday and continue on with the family tradition.  He spent a great deal of his free time with his daughter, had several close friends and was heavily involved in the social scene in Philadelphia.  Examinations of both of their pasts showed no information which suggested they had anything to run from, nor any reason to run.  I find it incredibly difficult to believe either of them would have made this decision, and when you really look at it, the circumstances wouldn’t fit either.  Danielle hadn’t seen Richard for nearly five weeks, and from what we gather, there hadn’t been much communication between them during that period, if any at all.  The idea that he would ask her out for a drink and somehow during the course of the night they’d make the decision to just run off is almost ludicrous.  They would have taken nothing with them, no personal affects or clothes beyond what they were wearing.  That doesn’t sound much like people planning to run away.

                In the thirteen years since they vanished, there has been no activity on their bank accounts or social security numbers.  Richard’s truck has never been spotted, and if they had chosen to run off, it seems like a leap in logic to assume they’d have disposed of it in order to travel secretly.  Even if they had, they’d have needed some form of transportation to get them wherever they were going and there would be witnesses or sightings but there never have been.  To me, while I understand that this is a theory which always has to be presented under circumstances such as these, it is highly unlikely that these two elected to leave and much more probable that whatever resulted in them vanishing was not by their own choice.

                The second theory is that Richard and Danielle may have been in some kind of an accident which resulted in their disappearance.  The drive from South Street to Danielle’s condo in Mt. Laurel was approximately twenty-five miles and spanned bridges and areas of desolate wilderness.  There are certainly a number of places the two could have crashed along the way which could have resulted in them being injured, killed or lost.  We have heard a lot of cases over the years of people who mysteriously vanished, along with their vehicles, only to be found later in a river or lake.  Typically, when someone disappears along with their vehicle, this is a thought process that I follow early on.  There have been too many instances of this happening for it to be ignored.

                There are certain factors which don’t know which could support or detract from this theory.  Danielle and Richard spent their night at a bar, and we have no way of knowing how much Richard drank that night.  There have never been any statements from investigators nor Anthony Valentino about Richard being drunk or under the influence of anything else, but it’s something we have to consider.  It’s not entirely out of left field to imagine Richard could have had a few drinks and not really been aware that he was a little too drunk to drive until they were already moving.  That being said, again, without evidence, it’s very hard to say.  Even if he weren’t drunk, making the drive that night could have had any number of factors involved.  We know it was only 26 degrees out, which opens the door to things such as slick roads or even black ice.  Bridges often freeze over faster than roads, and it’s possible they could have hit a slippery section anywhere between Philadelphia and Mt. Laurel which could have sent them careening out of control.

                To me, when it comes to the accident theory, the only possibility is that they ended up in the Delaware river.  Considering the vast searches that were conducted, on both land and in the air, it’s improbable that the truck would have remained hidden all of this time unless it were submerged.  Just last month, for instance, on January 18th, a man was speeding along Riverbank Rd in Burlington New Jersey, lost control of his vehicle, smashed into a parked car and went tumbling into the Delaware river.  His passenger drowned at the scene, though he survived.  When I heard that story, I couldn’t help but wonder if he hadn’t hit the parked car, would anyone have heard it, or even noticed?  The maximum depth of the Delaware river runs 388 miles and is thirty-nine feet, making it able to consume several cars stacked on top of one another before one would be visible from the surface. 

                As the police themselves even commented during dives, there are a number of vehicles beneath the surface.  They even pulled a truck out which they initially thought could have been Richard’s.  It’s incredibly difficult to search the entire expanse of the river, especially beneath the four main bridges they believe Richard would have driven over.  While all of these factors certainly make it possible for the couple to have had an accident which resulted in them being in the river, one thing which stands out as a counter to this argument is that no signs were ever found to indicate an accident had taken place.  No broken fence posts, skid marks, tire tracks in the mud.  They searches extensively for this possibility, and never found anything which they believed indicated an accident.  An accident is certainly possible, though law enforcement has openly stated they consider this an unlikely scenario.

                The third theory in this case takes a dark turn, and applies the theory that Danielle’s ex-husband, Joe Imbo, was in some way involved in the disappearance.  It’s been argued back and forth for years that Joe may have wanted revenge against Richard for dating Danielle, or perhaps even revenge on Danielle for refusing to take him back.  It has been insinuated that Joe was violent, though outside of an incident with throwing a something against the wall, there hasn’t been a great deal said about it and obviously police were never called for a domestic disturbance during their marriage.  The ex-husband is almost always a prime suspect in a case like this, but authorities have never said whether or not Joe was a suspect.  FBI special Agent Vito Roselli has said he has no evidence to arrest Joe, but also that no one has been ruled out.

                For Joe to have personally been involved in the commission of the crime, he’d have needed to get several law enforcement officers to lie for him.  They were present at the birthday part, fifty miles away, and though it’s possible, I consider unlikely that any cop is going to risk his job and possible arrest in order to cover up for someone who is the stepson of a friend.  Even if one were willing to, I doubt they’d all go along with it and after all these years, someone at that party would have come forward by now to say that he or she had not actually seen Joe there.  Whenever more than one person is involved in a crime, it’s simply another link in the chain that could possibly break.  Thirteen years later, and no one has ever accussed Joe of not being there.

                Joe was heavily questioned by investigators, and he did take a polygraph test.  While I don’t consider polygraphs to be the be all end all when it comes to investigation, it is interesting that the results of that test have never been publically released.  I have to believe that had he failed, authorities would have spent a great deal of time more digging into his life and trying to find information about that night.  Joe did an interview in 2015 where he spoke publically about it all for the first time.  He was asked, several times, if he were involved and he made it clear that he hasn’t.  He expressed grief over Danielle’s loss and explained that his life is forever haunted by the cloud of suspicion that has been cast over him.  He even explained that Special Agent Rosselli told him, directly, that he doesn’t believe Joe committed the crime but that he does believe he knows more than he is saying.

                I have one major, primary issue with the possibility of Joe being involved in the disappearance and that’s the timing of it.  Richard contacted Danielle the night they disappeared and asked her if she wanted to go out for a drink.  She agreed, and he picked her up.  We know that Joe had the passcode to her voicemail, but there has never been a record of Richard leaving a voicemail.  From the investigation it appears that he either called, and Danielle answered, or he sent a text message.  Joe would have had no way of knowing where the couple was going, so the idea of them being abducted or attacked on the way to or from the bar is unlikely.  The only possibility is that he, or someone else, could have been waiting at the condo for them to return, but that seems to raise the likelihood of their being witnesses, or at least some kind of a struggle heard.

                Unless Danielle had specifically told Joe that she was going out, I don’t see how he could have been aware.  In addition to that, if he’d wanted to take action against Richard or Danielle, the two hadn’t seen each other for nearly five weeks so why wouldn’t he have done something during that time?  We know he called Richard and told him to stay away from his wife, though that doesn’t necessarily make him a killer.  When Joe was asked about this later he said that he was simply jealous, but not homicidal about the situation.  To me, Joe had ample time to do something if that is what he’d wanted and I simply don’t think that’s what happened here.

                Others have taken the murder for hire scenario and applied that to Joe, believing he may have paid someone to abduct or murder the couple, but again, we run into the same timing problem.  Unless someone had been following or watching one or both of them, they’d have no way of knowing the two were going out that night.  While I can totally get behind the theory of this being a murder for hire, I don’t see a lot of evidence which suggests that Joe was involved.  His phone records were likely checked, and if indeed they were, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard to track down communication between he and a would be killer.  Also, no one in Joe’s life has ever told investigators that he asked around about this possibility or has any connections to someone who works in this kind of dark area.  While I do believe Joe should be investigated, and looked into as much as possible, after thirteen years I have to believe that if there was something there, they’d have found it by now.

                This brings us to our final theory, that this was in fact a case of murder but for which reason?  Several have been suggested, including the murder for hire scenario, but it’s much more likely that Danielle and Richard became victims of a random act of violence.  Their evening wasn’t planned out in advance to give someone the knowledge and opportunity to strike, it would have had to have been more spur of the moment.  There are a few different possibilities when you go down this path.  The first is a carjacking.  We know that there was a massive carjacking ring operating in Philadelphia at this time.  It’s not entirely impossible that, at some point that night, either while driving, or even while walking to Richard’s truck, that the two could have been forced into the truck at gun point and driven off somewhere to be murdered and concealed, while the truck was then driven to a chop shop and parted out.

                As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of wooded areas, and of course the Delaware river itself, that the bodies could have been hidden.  If we are dealing with a large scale carjacking ring, then this would not have been the first time they’d have done this and they’d certainly have areas they knew of to conceal bodies that no one would ever find.  The one issue I have with this is that, in many cases, carjackers want your car, not you.  It’s possible Richard could have tried to fight the guy, or Danielle could have run, and murder was chosen as an option, but it’s incredibly hard to say.  The idea of the carjacking scenario is something I lean more towards than many of the other theories.

                Authorities have said they believe this was a case of murder for hire carried out by professionals, but without knowing what makes them believe this, it’s hard to put a lot of weight into it.  To me, it’s more likely that this was a random crime.  Someone in the bar that night could have followed Richard and Danielle out, followed them on the road and run them off the road or caused an accident as a way to get them to stop and then stolen the truck and abducted the two.  I do agree it’s not a one man operation, more than likely.  Two people would have been able to pull this off with more precision, and essentially, as soon as they got the truck to stop, there was no way they weren’t going to get what they wanted done.  Richard and Danielle would likely have complied, assuming that the attackers merely wanted the truck and to rob them, but any number of things could have gone wrong resulting in murder. Whether or not murder was the prime motive, we honestly don’t know, but it does seem like murder is what happened here.

                The FBI previously investigated a biker for a possible connection to the murders, as well as a known killer who had committed two other murders related to robberies.  That, to me, doesn’t sound like it follows the theory of murder for hire professionals.  Neither of those men were found to be involved, at least not yet, but that gives more credence to the possibility of this being a random attack.  Perhaps Danielle and Richard drove up on something they shouldn’t have seen, maybe it was someone who simply wanted the truck, or it could have been any number of other possibilities.  While I do believe that, after all of this time, Danielle and Richard were likely murdered, I can’t say for sure that I fully support the murder for hire theory over a random incident.

                The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone is a twisting road of confusing information left mostly desolate by an utter lack of facts.  Nothing has ever been found, not a hair, no shreds of clothing, not even their cell phones.  People do not simply vanish into thin air, and neither does a three thousand pound truck.  The sad state of the case speaks volumes about the seedy underbelly of society, in that no one is talking and the likelihood is almost 100% that at least one person out there knows exactly what happened to Danielle and Richard.  In the wake of their disappearance two families were utterly shattered, and thirteen years later, are still wondering what happened to their children, their siblings and their parents.  Though hope is hard to hold onto in a case like this, a break could happen at any moment and the FBI have remained dedicated to exploring all possibilities.  Special Vito Rosselli takes this case personally and wants, more than anything, to find the answers.  We can only hope that someday someone will come forward, or some new information will be discovered that might grant the victims families some semblance of peace and closure.  Until that day, the case remains open, cold and very much unsolved.