Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone

'When She Broke Up With Rich, a Weight Was Lifted Off Her Shoulders'

Joe Imbo
Joe Imbo

Joe Imbo has an alibi for his whereabouts on the night on February 19, 2005.  He said that he had slept over at the home of a family friend, Alex Shuerer, in Toms River, New Jersey, 60 miles from Philadelphia.  Imbo's mother and stepfather, Pat and Mike Cuomo, were there with him along with his son.  Mike Cuomo is a retired police officer, and Alex Shuerer is a retired NYPD detective.  Nevertheless, many people doubted Imbo's word, reasoning that his family would naturally vouch for him to keep him out of trouble.  So to prove that he was telling the truth, Imbo volunteered to take a lie-detector test, and he brought Danielle's brother, John Ottobre, along with him.  Ottobre was not allowed into the room during the test, which is standard procedure for administering a polygraph.  The results of the test were inconclusive.

Close friends of Danielle don't believe that Joe Imbo could have ever done anything to harm her.  He just isn't the type, they say.  The Imbos' marriage fell apart after the birth of their son.  A friend who had lived with the couple for a time feels that Joe just wasn't ready for fatherhood, and having the responsibility of a baby "scared him."  But adversity has apparently matured him.  Another friend remarked that Danielle would be "shocked" if she could see how well her husband is caring for their son now.

But Danielle would never have reconciled with her husband, her friends say, because she felt that she didn't need to be married.  Richard Petrone wanted to propose to her, and Danielle felt that she was being pressured by Richard's desire for marriage.  "When she broke up with Rich, a weight was lifted off her shoulders," another friend said.

But if Danielle was feeling pressured, she didn't show it at Abilene's on the night she and Richard disappeared.  According to Richard's friend, Anthony Valentino, who was at the bar with them, Danielle and Richard "were happy that night."  Richard's mother, Marge Petrone, concurs, saying that her son and Danielle were "hugging and kissing" at Abilene's.  Valentino had met Danielle for the first time that night, but he'd heard a lot about her from Richard, and he knew that they had recently broken up.  Valentino believes that their break-up was "mutual."  When Danielle and Richard left the bar at 11:45 p.m., they seemed relaxed and in a good mood.