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February 19, 2015

10 years later, FBI still searching for leads to missing couple

Richard Petrone and Danielle Imbo went missing after leaving a South Street bar

Investigations Missing Persons
PetroneImbo FBI/for PhillyVoice

The couple have been missing since Feb. 19, 2005.

Richard Petrone and Danielle Imbo disappeared 10 years ago after leaving a South Street bar in the late hours of Feb. 19, 2005. 

Exactly what happened next has remained a decade-old mystery the FBI hopes to finally solve. 

On Thursday, the Bureau announced it is renewing its search in a case long gone cold. The case is now part of the FBI's Cold Case Initiative, which will dedicate more resources toward solving it.

Petrone and Imbo left Abilene's bar, located near Fifth and South streets, around 11:45 p.m. Petrone was going to drop off Imbo at her Mount Laurel home before returning to South Philadelphia.

No one has since seen or heard from the pair, who had dated at one point. Petrone's 2001 black Dodge Ram 1500 series pickup truck has never turned up, and financial and cellphone records have not indicated any activity. No one has ever been charged with any crime relating to their disappearance.

"Nothing has really panned out for us, but that doesn't mean we're giving up," FBI Special Agent J.J. Klaver said.

"The bottom line is there's not a lot new to report," Klaver said. "We're taking a renewed look at this case, looking at everything that's been done to date, probably redoing some interviews."

The prevailing theory, Klaver said, is that the couple were victimized by foul play committed by multiple perpetrators. In 2008, the FBI floated a theory that Petrone, 35, and Imbo, 34, were victims of a murder-for-hire scheme.

"Circumstances surrounding it lead us to believe that one person could not have done it on their own," Klaver said. 

Philadelphia Magazine took an in-depth look at the case last April and noted that investigators found the crime so clean that it likely required methodical planning. 

“It’s possible a perpetrator could just get lucky,” Special Agent Vito Roselli told the magazine. “But it’s more likely just what it looks like: Someone behind this knew what they were doing.”

Marge Petrone, Richard's mother, joined authorities for a press conference Thursday announcing the renewed search. 

"Ten years is a long time not to have justice for two people who don't deserve this," Petrone said, according to NJ.com. "He was my son. He was a father, a brother and he's missed every single day."