Marsha Loritz of Bellevue never gives up the fight to one day find the answers to what happened to her mom and best friend, Victoria Prokopovitz.
“When I talk about her, I get emotional,” Loritz said. “It’s okay. But it’s tough for me to talk about her.”
The reason why Loritz continues to open up about the searing pain she feels from missing her mom, is because she knows it brings her mom’s name and picture back into people’s memories.
“She was my best friend,” Loritz said. “It’s really tough with her not being here, as my kids grow up…and I can’t share that excitement with her, so that’s tough.”
Victoria Prokopovitz went missing from the home she shared with her husband and son in Pittsfield, Wisconsin on April 25th, 2013.
Victoria’s husband, James Prokopovitz, claims the last thing Victoria said to him was that she was going to have a cup of coffee, then go to bed.
He told police that he noticed she was gone when he woke up to go to work in the morning. When he got home that afternoon, he called police.
Victoria’s phone, purse, and other belongings were still in the house.
“I called my stepdad and asked him what happened, and he said she was missing,” Loritz recalled.
Sergeant Detective Roman Aronstein with the Brown County Sheriff’s Office investigative division said this missing person’s case had unusual factors compared to what he has seen in nearly 20 years in law enforcement.
“This one immediately stood out as something that was different,” Sgt. Aronstein said. “We’re talking about an adult female that doesn’t live a high-risk lifestyle, we’re talking about a limited circle of friends and associates…we’re also talking about lack of transportation, access to transportation, she had no vehicle.”
James Prokopovitz told investigators he tried calling Victoria and drove around looking for her when he woke up.
“He was matter-of-fact, and told us what he knew in that timeline,” Sgt. Aronstein said.
Brown County Sheriff’s Office detectives believe Victoria didn’t wander off on her own that night.
“It is the investigative belief that Victoria went missing due to foul play,” Sgt. Aronstein asserted. “I think something happened in the middle of the night.”
Loritz said her stepdad James had helped raise her since she was 12 years-old. She said she doesn’t know if he may have been involved in Victoria’s disappearance.
“We were any other family, you know I would have never expected this to happen to my mom,” Lortiz said.
Brown County Sheriff’s detectives executed a search warrant at the Prokopovitz home two years after Victoria disappeared.
It allowed the Wisconsin Crime Lab to take evidence in for forensic analysis.
They walked away with multiple computers, hard drives, photos, financial documents, a cell phone, a roll of tape, and swabs from around the house that tested positive for blood.
Sgt. Aronstein won’t reveal if the blood was Victoria’s or not at this time, nor will he say how much was found, since the investigation is still open.
“One thing I can tell you is not all of the items that were located necessarily deem to be directly relevant to the investigation, but I’m not going to discuss which one’s were and which one’s were not,” Sgt. Aronstein said.
No arrests have ever been made in Victoria’s disapperance, but Loritz turned her anxiety into action.
Former Governor Scott Walker has dedicated the month of April as Missing Persons Awareness Month in Wisconsin since 2015, after Loritz wrote him a letter asking him to designate one day for it.
That same year, she held an event that brought missing persons’ families together.
“Those connections that were made were very very strong connections,” Loritz explained. “It felt so good to be surrounded by someone who knew the pain that I was going through. We didn’t have to ask questions, we just knew.”
She created a nonprofit in 2017 called Missing Persons Advocacy, Inc. that connects families of missing persons to resources that can help.
Every Thursday, Loritz updates her log of those who are missing, and the ones who have been found, like Jayme Closs.
“I’ve become an advocate for other families,” Loritz said. “I live this and breathe this every day.”
She was recognized this week by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office for her work with her nonprofit.
“Sometimes there’s things in life that make it hard for you to find the right words to describe the true inspiration that she is, not only in her own family, but also for others,” Sgt. Aronstein said.
When it comes to finding Victoria, someone has the missing pieces to the story.
“If you remove that one puzzle piece, in this case, the whereabouts of Victoria…the viewer can still see and understand what the picture is,” Sgt. Aronstein said. “So it’s our job as investigators to go out and locate the other 99 puzzle pieces and put that picture together.”
Loritz has set up a $17,000 reward for anyone who has information leading to Victoria’s location.
“She’s not just a picture on a poster,” Loritz said. “She’s my mom. We love her and we miss her, and it’s been too long. We need our answers.”
Loritz said her goal is to see law enforcement be required to report missing adults to a database in the same way missing children are automatically reported.