Into Thin Air; The Case Of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone


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.

Danielle & Richard were officially declared to be dead. Danielle’s and Richard’s case has been featured on various shows and spread on social media. A $50,000 reward has been offered for answers. There are websites setup for both Danielle, and Richard There have been all kinds of attempts to re-ignite this case and grab the public’s attention in an effort to yield new clues or leads, but so far nothing has worked and after a dozen years,the case remains shrouded in mystery. It’s no closer to being solved now then when Danielle and Richard walked out of Abilene’s and into the unknown.

If you have information about this case or Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone, please contact the following Law Enforcement agencies:
*Philadelphia Citizens Crime Commission tip line at 215-546-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
*NJ State Police: 800-709-7090
*Mount Laurel Twp, NJ Police Department: 856-234-1414
*NJSP Missing Persons Unit: 800-709-7090
*Philadelphia Police: 215-686-3013
*Burlington County,NJ Prosecutor’s Office: 609-265-5035


18 thoughts on “Into Thin Air; The Case Of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone”

  1. I just saw this case on “Disappeared”. My heart broke for both families. My opinion – That truck went into the water somewhere on that icy winter night, probably just a simple accident. Course the show said the cops think “Murder for Hire” so who knows. Just weird the vehicle never showed up in any form. I hope they find something to give those nice families some peace.

    1. By the way, and I swear this is true, I live in Ardmore on the same street as Viking Pastery, just 4 blocks away. I moved in from Center City a few hrs ago because it’s a very cool town and still considered ‘Philly’. Also, 2nd crazy coincidence, when they went missing, my then-art director at the ad agency I was working for was one of Danielle’s aunts. It was terrible to see her confusion and heartache. It was also just always something that happens to “other” people and makes for a great podcast listen, until it isn’t. This case drives me insane! And the Petrones are still baking amazing pasties and the hardest-working family business in this town. They just had to keep going for the kids, amazing strength.

  2. To me, what happened to these two is obvious and tragic. The disappearance had hit written all over it from the first few facts of the story. Danielle’s **** was unstable, was most likely threatening Richard in those phone calls he was placing to him right before the disappearance and ordered the hit and established an alibi in the expert fashion only the mob knows well. Tragedy is, because it was mob, those poor people will never be found, the families will never get any rest and the killer will get to live out his days ******, free as a bird. Justice will have to be in the next life.

  3. Ex-husband for sure! (Note from TrueCrimeGuy: This comment is the opinion of this particular poster, and this blog/website does not take a stance as to the guilt or innocence of any possible POI’s, and is NOT accusing any persons of any crimes)

    1. I couldn’t help wondering why, he would be going out on a weekend he had his son….? I remember a few years ago they found a 67 Camaro & remains of teenagers that went missing going to a school dance. The river/lake went dry & they found them….had been there for 40+ yrs. Sad all the way around.

      1. Absolutely. I fully believe that is the case here. An icy night, many routes they could have taken almost all over water. Both cell phones straight to voice mail just a few hours after they were last seen. This truck is somewhere in water with them still in it. Tragic.

        1. While we may be in the minority, I tend to agree with you that they drove off into an icy body of water someplace between Philadelphia in PA and Mount Laurel in NJ

          1. I live here…there is NO place to just drive into a river. All of us here know that theory is 100% out. But…if they decided to take a long road trip, and it would have to long (and lots of cops on the road after drinking?)…nah. Whether it was random or targeted, that car was most likely compacted— with them inside. South Philly has a long mob history. Not that it exists now the way it did before, I’m pretty sure the “clean-up fast” mechanisms are still in place. 😔

      2. He doesn’t have a son! He has a daughter. She had a son, who was with his father for the night. Please get facts straight especially before posting anything negative. It’s people like you who drum up gossip and untruths!

  4. The common belief in this case is, that somebody close to Danielle was responsible for this couple vanishing. I know that the FBI has said publicly that they are strongly considering a ‘murder for hire’ angle in this case. Their reasoning is simple; the Dodge Dakota can not simply vanish forever without somebody making that happen. I may be in the minority here, but I still think that they may have had an accident and be submerged in water someplace. Take this case into consideration:

    There are only a few possibilities here.

    1) Murder for hire, dispose of the bodies and chop/crush car-Would the mob get involved in a hit for non-mob related reasons?

    2) Carjacking/Robbery, chop/crush car-Is a Dodge Dakota the type of vehicle that carjackers & thieves would target? I think not.

    3)Car accident sending the bodies and truck into water where they still remain-Still a real possibility. The Delaware River is deep and strong, and despite them searching it, it’s possible that the current could have shifted the location. There are also areas of water on the Jersey side that they could have driven into.

    Other than these 3 possibilities, that truck would have been located. For me, the key is whether they made it back to Danielle Imbo’s residence, and if so, then obviously the truck in the water theory goes out the window, but that has not been determined.

  5. I kept thinking that they may have gone over a bridge into water somewhere.

    Now I am wondering if the boy in Bucks County that murdered the 4 boys and claims he murdered before did something to them.

  6. I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that a lot of those waterways were checked along the many routes they could have taken home. Joe Imbo sure did make sure he had a solid alibi though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *