Details of Disappearance
Victoria was last seen at her residence in the 5100 block of Kunesh Road in Pittsfield, Wisconsin at 10:00 p.m. on April 25, 2013. Her husband, James M. Prokopovitz, says he went to bed at that time and this was the last time he saw her. When he woke up at 4:00 a.m., she was gone. He said he searched the area, couldn't find her, and went to work. After he returned home that afternoon, he called the police to report her disappearance.
Victoria's medication disappeared with her, but she left behind her purse, identification, money, dentures, cigarettes and cellular phone. She didn't have access to a vehicle and hadn't driven one in years, and there's no evidence that anyone else picked her up. An extensive search of the area turned up no sign of her and she has never been heard from again.
James stated he thought she may have taken her own life, but according to her daughter and her son, Victoria seemed to be doing well and was not depressed at the time of her disappearance. She had previously attempted suicide twice, but this was more than a decade prior to her disappearance. Both attempts took place at her home.
In 2015, police searched Victoria's home and all the buildings on the property and seized photos, seven computers, twelve hard drives, a cellular phone, financial documents, a roll of tape and other items. During the search, police found blood evidence in multiple locations in the house, including in the bedroom, hallway and kitchen. James still lived at the house, as did Victoria's son.
James began seeing another woman, Kathryn Friday, a month after Victoria's disappearance. Photos of them are posted with this case summary. In May 2019, both of them were arrested in Victoria's case. James was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, domestic abuse, perjury and resisting or obstructing an officer, and Friday was charged with perjury and obstruction. Victoria's family had been suspicious of James since soon after she was reported missing; they stated he refused to participate in any of the numerous searches for her, and also kept insisting she was "dead" and "never coming back."
Earlier on the day James and Friday was arrested, they both testified under oath at a John Doe hearing, which is a court hearing convened to determine whether a crime has been committed in that jurisdiction. In their testimony, the couple admitted they had lied to police for years about when they met each other. James said he was "concerned what people would think" about him starting another relationship so soon after Victoria went missing, so he and Friday agreed to lie about it.
Investigators stated the couple had lied to them about other matters concerning Victoria's disappearance on numerous occasions. Among other things, James had lied when he said he looked for Victoria after he realized she was missing. He said he'd checked a nearby gas station for her, but security footage at the station proved this was untrue. He also said he called Victoria on the way home from work on the day she disappeared to ask about dinner, but phone records showed she hadn't received any calls.
In an interview with police after his arrest, James had stated, "here I killed her. Kathy had nothing to do with it. I don't know how I killed her. I didn't, so I can't tell you I don't know." He said he and Frye had lied in an effort to "keep their stories straight", but then he changed his story and denied having killed his wife.
James had access to a sludge pond, which is full of industrial waste and is located on his route between his home and his job. At the John Doe hearing, when asked about the pond, James said, "I think if a body was put into the sludge ponds it would never be found. I know that as I saw what happened to the deer that went in there." He denied having put Victoria's body in the pond, and the pond is too hazardous to search.
People who knew Victoria and James said their marriage was "up and down" and one person described the marriage as abusive. Victoria had told a health care provider that her marriage was in trouble. Police also stated James "benefited monetarily" from his wife's disappearance. Friday was released on bond pending trial, while James was held without bail. In July 2019, Friday was charged with bail jumping; as part of her bond agreement, she'd been prohibited from communicating with James, but they had allegedly passed verbal messages to each other through her sister.
In July 2020, Friday pleaded no contest to perjury, conspiracy to commit perjury, and obstruction. The bail jumping charge was dropped. In November of that year, just before her sentencing, Friday died by suicide at the age of 68.
During James's trial in February 2021, two inmates who'd known him in jail testified against him. One of them said James stated no one would be able to identify Victoria because there would be no blood or teeth with the body. Victoria's psychiatrist testified, saying he had treated for five years and didn't believe she was suicidal at the time of her disappearance. He also stated Victoria told him James was controlling and wouldn't let her go see a doctor. James's ex-wife also testified, against he had been abusive and threatened her and her daughter.
Wesley Edges, who is Victoria's son and James's stepson, said she and James got into an argument over a tablecloth on the day she disappeared. Later, Edges left home and when he came back, James told him, "Mom's gone." When Edges asked what he meant, James said, "I woke up, she’s not here." Victoria's daughter testified that her stepfather seemed more interested in moving on with his life than in finding Victoria, and that he quickly dropped Victoria from his medical insurance policy.
James's defense did not call any witnesses and his attorney argued the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. He was convicted of murder and faces a sentence of life in prison.
Victoria's daughter, Marsha Loritz, has founded a nonprofit organization, Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy Inc., to assist families of missing persons.