On the night of February 19, 2005, on-again, off-again couple Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone left a South Philadelphia bar and were never seen again. This case is both interesting and unusual because police have found almost no evidence of what happened to them.
Both the families and investigators now believe that Imbo and Petrone are deceased. The complete lack of evidence has even led the FBI to speculate that they may have been targets of a professional hit. Danielle's estranged husband has been questioned but never considered a suspect. In fact, investigators have never named a formal suspect in the case. Although several theories have been proposed, the case remains cold, and the families are still searching for closure.
Here's everything we know about what happened to Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone.
At the time of their 2005 disappearance, Richard Petrone, 35, was living in Pennsylvania and working at his parents' bakery. Danielle Imbo, 34, worked from home for a mortgage company and was the lead singer of a New Jersey rock band. Both were single parents - Richard's daughter was 14 at the time, and Danielle's son was one year old.
The two were family friends who had dated as teenagers before they began an on-again, off-again relationship as adults. At the time, Danielle was married to her husband Joe Imbo, but they were estranged, and Danielle was in the process of separating from him.
On the night of Saturday, February 19, 2005, Imbo and Petrone met with friends at Abilene's, a South Philadelphia Tex-Mex restaurant that has since closed.
Petrone's friends, Anthony Valentino and his wife Michelle McLaughlin, joined Imbo and Petrone at the restaurant. They later told investigators that Imbo and Petrone appeared to be having a good time - they were sitting close together, smiling, and kissing throughout the evening. They were even overheard making plans for the next day.
At about 11:45 pm, Imbo and Petrone left Abilene's. Petrone was going to drive Imbo to her condo in Mount Laurel, NJ, and then return to his own home. This would be the last time anyone saw them.
Imbo's family first noticed something was amiss when Imbo failed to show up for an 11 am hair appointment on Sunday morning. However, panic didn't truly set in until 3 pm, when her husband Joseph arrived at her condo to drop off their son, "little Joe," and Imbo was absent. Her brother, John Ottobre, later said, “She wouldn’t have missed that. No way.”
Police usually wait 48 hours to begin a missing person search, but the families started immediately. That night, Ottobre and Petrone's father, Richard Petrone Sr., began searching for the missing couple and combed the streets of Philadelphia until the next morning.
Friends and volunteers canvassed neighborhoods for 100 miles in every direction, distributing pictures of Petrone's truck. At one point, Ottobre even paid a Camden police officer $1,200 to take him up in a helicopter and try to locate the truck. None of these efforts produced any leads.
One of the most unusual aspects of the Imbo-Petrone disappearance is that there is practically no evidence to indicate what may have happened to them. There is no known crime scene, and police were unable to find any clues about either their whereabouts or their fate - not at Abilene's or anywhere else.
Since the couple's disappearance, both of their cell phones have remained powered off. Neither of them have accessed their bank accounts or used their credit cards or E-ZPasses. Police weren't even able to locate Petrone's truck - a 2001 black Dodge Dakota with a NASCAR decal and the license plate YFH-2319.