Details of Disappearance
Kupka was last seen leaving her home in the 200 block of Westminister Avenue in the New York City borough of Brooklyn on October 24, 1998 at approximately 12:30 p.m. Her roommate said that Kupka's boyfriend, Darshanand "Rudy" Persaud, arrived at their house shortly beforehand. Persaud seemed nervous, according to her roommate.
A photo of Persaud is posted with this case summary. Kupka was five months pregnant with his child at the time of her disappearance. She left a message on her sister's answering machine before she and Persaud left, saying that she was going to view his new apartment in the borough of Queens and would return home shortly. Kupka has never been heard from again. She did not have a coat, any personal belongings or very much money on her when she disappeared.
Persaud and Kupka had a troubled relationship. He was her adjunct chemistry instructor at Baruch College in New York City, where she majored in philosophy. They began dating shortly after she completed his class and continued their relationship for five months.
Kupka became pregnant unexpectedly and told friends Persaud was not supportive of the pregnancy and had begged her to have an abortion. Her loved ones stated that she seemed frightened he would hurt her or their child, although she never stated he had threatened her.
As it turned out, Persaud was married and reportedly only told Kupka of his marital status after she learned about her pregnancy. (He was not married at the time the infant was conceived.) He initially denied that he could be the baby's father, claiming he had had a "partial vasectomy," but eventually backed down from that assertion.
According to Kupka's family and friends, Persaud was angry and scared, telling Kupka his family would disown him if she carried their baby to term. He is a Guyanese immigrant and his father is a Hindu priest.
Kupka was looking forward to becoming a single mother and is described as an intelligent and strong-willed person. She had a 3.97 grade point average at Baruch College, founded the school's Philosophy Club, and planned to attend law school and become a civil rights attorney, focusing on women's issues.
Kupka supported herself by working as a server at a Jamaican restaurant in 1998, and lived frugally with five roommates. She had $7,000 in her savings account. She was due to graduate from Baruch College in January 1999. She missed her midterm examinations after her disappearance, as well as appointments with her midwife.
Kupka allegedly spoke to Persaud's wife via telephone several times before she disappeared. According to her loved ones, Kupka said that she reached his wife after attempting to page Persaud. Kupka told his wife she did not want to disrupt the family, but she wanted Persaud to be a part of their child's life and said that she worried about the baby's emotional well-being if it did not have a relationship with both parents.
According to Kupka, Persaud's wife became angry at him after learning about Kupka's pregnancy. Kupka intended to name Persaud as the father on their child's birth certificate. She also planned to ask him for financial support for the baby if it became necessary.
Persaud and Kupka's relationship cooled for a time, but he resurfaced in Kupka's life shortly before her October 1998 disappearance. Kupka told friends he appeared on her doorstep and claimed his wife had thrown him out of the house and he was staying with a cousin.
It is not clear whether Kupka believed Persaud's story, but she told her family that she encouraged him to reconcile with his wife. Persaud apparently became more supportive of the pregnancy at the time, suggesting names for the baby and offering to be the birthing coach, which confused Kupka given his earlier attitude.
The reason behind Persaud's visit to Kupka's house on October 24 is not clear. Her loved ones stated that Kupka believed she was going to view his new apartment, while Persaud maintained that he was driving her to a nearby shopping mall.
Kupka's family was alerted to her disappearance by her roommate, who became concerned she Kupka failed to return to her residence that evening. Kupka's family located Persaud's home and confronted him about Kupka's whereabouts. Persaud's mother alerted her son to the family's arrival and the police were called to prevent an altercation in case an incident arose.
Persaud told the family members that he drove Kupka to a shopping center, then waited in his car for her to return from shopping. Persaud claimed that he dropped Kupka off two blocks from her home between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m., as she wanted to walk to a nearby health food store. When Kupka's family asked him which shopping mall he had taken her to, he said he did not know and he had stayed in the car while she shopped.
Kupka's loved ones then questioned people in the neighborhood. A laundromat owner said he thought he had seen her walking past the establishment, and the proprietor of an area health food store said she might have seen her at approximately 7:00 p.m. the day of her disappearance. Later the health food store owner changed her mind and decided the woman she saw was not Kupka, since the woman was wearing peach-colored pants, which Kupka did not own.
Authorities have questioned Persaud just once, shortly after Kupka's disappearance. He hired an attorney a few days later and has not granted any further interviews. The Kupka family has since employed a private investigator and continues to publicize her case. The investigator has stated publicly that he believes Persaud was involved in her disappearance.
Persaud has never been charged in connection with Kupka's case and he maintains his innocence. Authorities have said that he was cooperative during his single interview, but have also mentioned that he did not have an alibi for the time Kupka vanished and they felt he was evasive at times during the questioning.
Detectives have stated that there is little in the way of physical evidence to prove what happened to Kupka and nothing linking Persaud to her disappearance beyond motive, but they believe she was the victim of a homicide.
In 2010, police began digging up the basement floor of a shop once owned by one of Persaud's relatives. One section of the concrete was not like the others, and a cadaver-sniffing dog indicated the presence of human remains. Nothing was found in the search, however.
Kupka is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Malcolm Shabazz High School, an alternative school. She attended the University of Wisconsin prior to moving to New York City, but dropped out of there and later re-enrolled at Baruch College. She has also lived in Atlanta, Georgia. Her case remains unsolved.