This Month marks the 12 year anniversary of one of the most perplexing local mysteries I know of, the disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone Jr. On February 19th, 2005, Danielle and Richard walked out of a bar on South Street in Philadelphia, and seemingly, off the face of the Earth.
On the night they vanished, Danielle and Richard had met some Friends at a bar named Abilene’s on the 400 Block of South Street in Philadelphia. The couple, who had known each other since High School, had only recently started dating after Danielle’s split with her estranged Husband. Shortly before Midnight, the couple left the bar and headed for Richard’s pickup truck, a black 2001 Dodge Dakota, that Richard had mentioned to Friends at the bar was parked nearby. Richard had planned to drive Danielle home to her house in Mount Laurel, a town in southern New Jersey about 20 miles away, and maybe a half hour’s ride. He would stay over night at Danielle’s, and then head home to his Philadelphia apartment in the morning getting home in time to watch the Daytona 500. It’s not known if they reached Danielle’s house or not. What is known is, neither was ever seen again, and Richard’s truck has never been found.
After Danielle and Richard vanished, there were no cell phone calls by either of them, no activity in either of their bank accounts, and their credit cards were never used. By all accounts, neither Danielle or Richard would deliberately vanish by choice, as they each were great parents to young children from their previously relationships. As most investigations go, Law enforcement started with the People closest to Danielle and Richard and then worked their was outwards from there. The one obvious suspect to authorities was Danielle’s estranged Husband. He was closely looked at, but apparently he had a solid alibi being witnessed at a party by several People on the night of February 19th, and then spending the night at a Friend’s house at least 50 miles from Abilene’s bar in Philadelphia, and at least 40 miles from Danielle’s home in Mount Laurel. This has not stopped rumors and innuendos of a ‘murder for hire’ plot,but as of now, there is no solid evidence linking anybody to the missing persons case. In fact, although there very likely is a crime involved in this case, there’s no evidence of one.
In looking at the possibilities, if they were not followed and marked for death by somebody, they may have been the Victims of a random car-jacking,or robbery gone wrong. Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly love, but in reality, certain sections of it are dangerous and violent crimes are not out of the question. On the New Jersey side of the bridge, depending on what route the couple would have taken, they might have crossed thru Camden, or the outskirts of Camden, one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for Violent crimes. If the couple did make it across the bridge and to Danielle’s, did something happen upon arriving at her house? Could somebody have followed the couple after they left the bar? There are plenty of possibilities, and a complete lack of any clues after they left the bar. There were no surveillance cameras showing the bar area, so Police do not know which way they walked after leaving, but as Richard had stated, he had gotten lucky with a close parking spot, so the walk should not have been a long one. The area Toll bridges were checked to see if they yield any clues as far as Camera footage, paid tolls, etc , but nothing of value was found to help the investigation. One possibility that I think is possible, is that somewhere, at some point, Richard’s truck may have wound up in one of the area rivers or creeks as the result of an accident. It could explain how no trace of Richard’s truck has ever been found. People can easily vanish, but a 3,000 pound truck is harder to hide. Short of chopping it up, or dumping it in a river, there’s not many ways to make it disappear. The VIN or vehicle identification number would be stamped on various parts of the truck making it hard to ever sell again since the VIN is easily trackable by Police & DMV.