New angle in missing couple case

Weeks before the three-year anniversary of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone's disappearance the FBI has released disturbing information.

By Lorraine Gennaro
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Feb. 21, 2008

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The news confirmed what Richard Petrone Sr. knew in his heart all along: Somebody killed his son.

In late January, the FBI went public that the Feb. 19, 2005, disappearance of Richard Petrone Jr. and Danielle Imbo appears to be a murder-for-hire. In a case that made national news, the 35-year-old Petrone and 34-year-old Imbo vanished after leaving the bar/restaurant Abilene, 429 South St., at about 11:30 p.m. No trace of the couple or Petrone's black truck have surfaced since.

"From the very beginning, the FBI was active in this case because of the possibility it was a kidnapping or murder-for-hire," FBI spokeswoman Jerri Williams told the Review. "It never appeared to be a random act of violence. At this point, we have no evidence that this was a kidnapping, so now we are leaning toward murder-for-hire."

The investigation has expanded beyond Philadelphia and New Jersey into other states, but Williams said she could not reveal which ones or say if the FBI had a suspect or suspects or what evidence pointed the Feds to believe the two were killed for money.

"We do have some new leads and tips that lead us to explore that area [of murder-for-hire]. We're still very optimistic this will be solved," the spokeswoman said.

Petrone lived on the 1600 block of Snyder Avenue and Imbo was from Mount Laurel, N.J., where she lived with her toddler son Joe Jr. who now lives with his mother's estranged husband, Joe Imbo, in South Carolina. John Ottobre, Danielle's brother and the family's spokesman, declined to comment for this story.

The federal work on the investigation has little bearing on the Petrones' coping three years later.

"What it is is public confirmation of what we suspected all along and probably what [the FBI] suspected too," Petrone Sr. said. "We could not be more satisfied with the effort put forth [by law enforcement]. All you can expect from law enforcement is best effort and we're very happy."

Call it a mother's intuition, but from day one, Marge Petrone feared the worst.

"[Marge] felt it immediately, that Sunday. I held out for a couple more days. I said, 'Let's approach this logically and run through the scenarios of what could have happened,' but by the second, third day we knew something terrible had happened and we knew we weren't going to see him again," the victim's father said.

In addition to his parents and sisters Christine, 38, and Alisa, 19, Petrone Jr. leaves behind daughter Angela, 17. If time heals all wounds, it has bypassed this Cherry Hill, N.J., family.

"There is no day that is worse or better. The momentum of living carries you along, but the absence is never far from your mind," Petrone Sr. said.

So the ones left behind try to keep moving, because nothing is worse than having time to think.

"[Staying busy] is the great leveler; you're engaged," Petrone Sr. said.

For the owner of Viking Pastries in Ardmore, the worst part of Petrone Sr.'s day is the hour drive to work at 2 a.m.

"That's when it's the most profound," he said.

The Citizens Crime Commission's reward of $100,000 remains for information leading to the couple's whereabouts.

"We want to solve this thing so these families can have some closure. There's $100,000 on the table just for information. Just tell us where they are," Commission Vice President Santo Montecalvo said.

Petrone Sr. added, "We're hopeful that over the last three years relationships [in this crime] have changed. If they are classifying this as a murder-for-hire, you have the person who did the hiring and the people who did the murdering. I'm hopeful that some people on the periphery may come forward and say, 'Look, I didn't have anything to do with that, but I did this.'"

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. billyzeke said... on Sep 18, 2013 at 09:55PM

“I also deduced that it was perfect hit BUT these two had no connections or any enemies to the mob! Why would someone pay to have them both killed?
Maybe it was just one they wanted but because they were both together they both had to die! MY theroy is and don't laugh alien abduction! THat's becuse there wasnt even a thread or footprint or something left and 11:45 pm on south street no one was out ? NOt a soul saw or heard the truck driven off ! If it was a hit it was planned precision military style hit. SO maybe ex service men should be searched even the mob couldn't do it this clean ! But a top trained navy seal team sure could or the marines or green berets. Still i have to stick with abduction by aliens !”

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2. ColdCase Obession Lady said... on Jan 20, 2014 at 05:02PM

“I think is was mistaken Identity. People don' just vanish, people or something happen to them. Both good people, working taken care of their kids and then poof into thin air. Wish I could solve this one, not for the money but for the family.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 05:51PM

“if it wasnt mistaken identity and it was a murder for hire, the circumstances tell us what level of professionals they were. no evidence, nothing ,a very clean job to say the least and no one bragging afterwords. these were real pros expensive to hire i dont know how much it cost but the feds should be looking at someone in their past that they crossed paths with that has that type of disposable income and a taste for revenge also the fact that NOTHING has ever come out also tells us they were expensive to hire and how would one go about making the connections you dont ask in a bar, you have to have had a contact in that line of work, so who in their past could do those things and have the money to pay”

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4. leslie said... on Feb 18, 2014 at 05:30PM

“how do you hire a hit team????????? you sure as hell dont go around asking people who is available, that way your intentions are known. you would have to either know someone in that line of work or someone very close to people like that. also NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WAS EVER FOUND OUT, the perps KEPT THEIR MOUTHS SHUT FOR GOING ON 9 YEARS!!! these guys were total professionals. WHO HAS THE MONEY THE REASON AND MOST OF ALL KNOWS WHERE TO FIND THESE KILLERS that is the person law enforecment needs to find and if the feds cant locate this type of person from their past im starting to think its either mistaken identity or they went into a river or lake but there was no damage to any bridges and if they careened into a lake there would be tracks marks or road damage strange”

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5. bazza thompson said... on Feb 20, 2014 at 01:27PM

“A believe whoever did this done it to gain somethink ..danielle was killed cos he was with her he too .they HAVE to look at someone who used to be close with danielle who now has what he wants”

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 20, 2014 at 02:29PM

“Aliens? Hit team?? B-line for the river? Ridiculous! Simple fact is that some person or persons thought they could take the life of two people and not have to pay for it, eventually someone will come forward with the connections and the family will be able to close the hurt! There are unfortunately those in this world that think they do not have to answer to societies morals or ethics and that is why we have prison's full of criminals.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Mar 21, 2014 at 02:17PM

“The ex-husband is exactly the place to start!”

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8. sirrino said... on Apr 16, 2014 at 04:28PM

“some of the storie are true and some are as they say what ever. I helped in case well was made because of family and nothing was done after the case as the broke in my house more then one and I was beat and shot. and they took money and bank accounts,. so how can you trust and now i was to help and got dismissed off of proprity when I seen sales and now they drug movement is strong and the houses That i bought with inheratance was taken and some were burned . they need to follow the miss on imbo and the truth is their with the others in the case.they need to start in oneonta with police brutlity and thingon south side in 2004. all starts their and wellave.”

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9. Anonymous said... on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:58AM

“crimes that involve "law inforcement" rarely get solved”

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10. Anonymous said... on Jun 17, 2014 at 08:15PM

“Why did the families wait so long to contact cops? I'd be in the cops' faces demanding they ping their cell phones. Why did they just move along when the estranged husband came up inconclusive in lie detector test?? He made sure to have an alibi for himself but not for the hitman he hired likely through his friend the retired FBI. And the fact he's moved way out of state raises further questions ... a tactic often employed by those thinking they got away with murder.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jul 31, 2014 at 05:04PM

“It's part of the human condition, I think, that we assume a disappearance like this has a reason. It's now been ten years and none of the 'murder-for-hire' investigations have turned up anything tangible.

What if a very restrained psychopath wanted to see if they could commit the perfect murder? This person could make a plan that would fit a set of circumstances, wait until these conditions were met, and then kill two complete strangers. There would be no motive and no accomplices, so if this person was careful, they'd be virtually untouchable.”

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12. roa said... on Aug 28, 2014 at 11:00AM


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13. Anonymous said... on Nov 11, 2014 at 01:46PM

“THE EX HUSBAND DID IT. You would have to be stupid not to see that he orchestrated this entire thing. Murder for hire. He even admitted to be jealous. I dont believe they will ever find the bodies. It was too clean, too professionally done. BUt I bet you that son Joe Jr has his suspicions when he gets older.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:59PM

“I worked with both Danielle and with her husband and firmly believe that her estranged husband had everything to do with this. Neither Danielle or Richard would have left their children. And Joe was making big bucks at PHH Mortgage at the time, his name ends in O! And the lie detector test was inconclusive. I hope the FBI is still watching his sorry ass. Dude might have gotten away with a double murder but he shall burn in hell along with the assassins.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Feb 19, 2015 at 07:27PM

“Today I heard the news that the FBI has new leads in this case. I hope this mystery will be solved at last. It's always been astonishing to me that two bodies and a 3,000 lb. vehicle have just disappeared without a trace. Based on the little bit that I've heard though, I won't be the least bit surprised if the estranged husband is behind this. I absolutely DO NOT believe they had a master plan to just run away and disappear!”

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16. resister361 said... on Feb 21, 2015 at 11:27PM

“The estranged husband was with a bunch of police officers and his stepfather (ex-NYPD) at a kids' party the night they vanished. How convenient...
For some reason, Drew Peterson comes to mind.”

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17. Anonymous 2 said... on May 1, 2015 at 11:01AM

“Perhaps the family should seek out the Long Island Medium for some answers to heal the hurt.

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18. Anonymous said... on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:37PM

“murder suicide....check the lakes and rivers...s st. to mt laurel”


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