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PA MARIO JOSEPH ROSSI: Missing from Philadelphia, PA - 29 Dec 1982 - Age 50

Discussion in 'Missing 1980 to 1989' started by Scorpio, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2019
  2. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    • Missing Since 12/29/1982
    • Missing From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Classification Missing
    • Age 50 years old
    • Height and Weight Unknown
    • Clothing/Jewelry Description A gold chain necklace with a scorpion medallion.
    • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Black hair, brown eyes. Rossi wears eyeglasses. He may have a mustache.

    Details of Disappearance
    Rossi was last seen at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1982. He lived in Boca Raton, at the time, and had spent the Christmas holiday at his mother's home in New Jersey.

    On December 28, his family drove him to the airport at approximately 9:00 a.m. so he could fly to the Bahamas. He waved goodbye from inside the terminal, and this was the last time they saw him. On January 1, 1983, his sister tried to call him in the Bahamas to wish him a Happy New Year, but he didn't answer the phone.

    On January 2, Rossi's family got a call saying he'd been piloting a plane off the coast of the Bahamas when he crashed it and died. However, the story was never confirmed, Rossi's body was never recovered, and the private plane he owned and supposedly crashed had been resold at least three times since the years since Rossi's disappearance. His family no longer believes he died in a plane crash.

    Rossi was involved in stock car racing in the 1950s through the early 1970s, and was noted for his excellent skills as an engine builder and auto mechanic. After a close friend was killed in a crash, he became interested in improving auto safety and developed an improved driver restraint system for stock cars and won an award as a result.

    However, by the mid-1970s, Rossi had become disenchanted with NASCAR, and there were rumors that he was involved with drugs. His family believes his disappearance could be drug-related.

    His case remains unsolved.
  3. Scorpio

    Scorpio Bronze Member


    The Mysterious Disappearance ...

    When Mario's sister Virginia first contacted me about writing this article, she said, "My brother Mario has been missing since January of 1983. It is a very long and complicated story. My sister and I have been trying to find out what happened to him for the past 24 years."

    Indeed, the mystery portion of Rossi's life story begins shortly after his involvement with NASCAR ends.

    Not much is known about Mario's specific activities from the late 1970s until early January 1983, when his mother received a phone call informing the family that Rossi had died in the crash of a plane he was allegedly piloting off the coast of the Bahamas.

    "At first, when we received the call in January of 1983, we did think he was dead," said DiMattia. "But as the weeks went by and we reflected on the information and phone calls, we were not sure."

    Rossi had left NASCAR shortly after his departure from DiGard. His financial situation was grim and he reportedly declared bankruptcy and moved to Atlanta, later returning to Florida to work as a builder of racing boat engines.

    South Florida was a mecca of drug activity in the early 1980s (think Miami Vice) and it is rumored that Rossi got mixed up in that dangerous world. If true, Mario's family believes that some aspect of his involvement in the drug trade could account for his strange disappearance.

    DiMattia says that over the years, she and other family members have had numerous indications that the plane crash story was not true. "There have been too many unanswered questions and people possibly knowing some answers, telling us to leave it alone," she said. "We do know that for every door opened, another one closed. So many different stories have been told or related to us. Some are hair raising, some are not."

    Of note, Mario was an experienced flyer who had owned and piloted a private plane for years.

    According to a 1998 article in the Spartanburg, S.C. newspaper about Mario's disappearance, "An investigation by Prudential years later showed that the plane Rossi supposedly died in had been resold three times in the years since."

    Rossi's remains were never recovered.

    A Family Seeking Closure ...

    The surviving family members (siblings and children -- Rossi's mother died in 1986), have considered every theory from the tenable to the extreme - among them, that Rossi may have been killed by someone from the local or international drug scene, or that he turned state's evidence and was placed in a Witness Protection Program, in which case DiMattia believes he could still be alive.

    Rossi's sister sent a letter earlier this year to the U.S. Marshals Service requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act about Mario's possible placement in a Witness Protection Program years ago. She received a written reply stating in part, "The Marshals Service will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the records you seek."

    DiMattia says that the family had been together just days before receiving word of the plane crash. "The last time I was in my brother's presence was December 28, 1982, for the Christmas holiday at my mother's home in Trenton, New Jersey. (Mario) was driven by family members on December 29th or 30th to the Philadelphia International Airport at 9 a.m. give or take a few minutes. He waved goodbye from inside the terminal, changed airline tickets, and was never seen again by the family. I tried to reach him in the Bahamas on January 1 to wish him a happy New Year, but there was no answer."

    Two days later, the family was told that Mario was dead.

    Despite the passage of time and the lack of definitive answers, Rossi's next of kin hold out hope that he could still be alive. "If Mario is alive, and he still follows racing news, he may read this and know we are still trying to find him," DiMattia says.

    Either way, the family vows that they will never give up trying to learn the truth about Rossi's disappearance. "It has been 24 years of total frustration, not knowing if Mario is alive or dead," said DiMattia.

    "We, as a family, must have closure."

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