First Alert Exclusive: Daughter of missing and murdered mom speaks for first time since stepdad’s trial

Victoria Prokopovitz disappeared without a trace on April 25, 2013. Her husband, James, was the last person to see her alive.
Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - April marks nine years since the disappearance of Brown County woman Victoria Prokopovitz.

In a First Alert Exclusive, Victoria’s daughter is speaking for the first time since her stepfather was convicted and sentenced to prison for her mother’s death.

“I just want to know why. I just want to know where she is,” says Marsha Loritz.

Victoria Prokopovitz disappeared without a trace on April 25, 2013. Her husband, James, was the last person to see her alive.

In February of 2021, a jury found James Prokopovitz, 76, guilty of 1st Degree Intentional Homicide, Obstructing an Officer, and Perjury. In May, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Victoria Prokopovitz’s body has never been found.

Daughter Marsha Loritz has fought to give a voice to the families of the missing while still maintaining hope her mother would be found alive.

For nine years, time has stood still for Loritz.

“Time’s a weird thing. It was nine years ago she went missing, yet it feels like yesterday,” says Loritz.

Marsha will never forget the day time stopped for her.

“April 25 of 2013,” she says. The date of her mother’s disappearance.

Victoria Prokopovitz went missing from the home she shared with James in Pittsfield in rural Brown County.

Hours turned to days--then weeks--as searched frantically looked for her.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her,” says Loritz.

Weeks turned to months, then years.

“That’s exactly how I felt. Stuck in my grief and not having answers, not able to move forward,” says Loritz.

After six years, investigators arrested James Prokopovitz. Marsha was close with her stepfather.

Marsha: “I did not call him my stepdad. I called him my dad.”

Sarah Thomsen: “Do you still call him your dad?”

Marsha: “I don’t know what to call him anymore. My heart’s broken.”

For the first time, Marsha Loritz is sharing her deeply personal emotions about feelings she’s lost two parents.

She had stopped talking publicly about the case when James Prokopovitz was arrested--not wanting to jeopardize the possibility of learning what happened to her mother.

In February 2021, James Prokopovitz went on trial.

“I prayed for the jury every day that they would take in the information and just hear all the evidence and make a good decision based on that,” says Marsha.

Marsha and her siblings and family members sat in the courtroom every day.

“It’s very foggy. There’s so much happening and it was so overwhelming and so many emotions. It was reliving it, start to finish,” says Marsha.

They heard and saw things they’d never known. That includes a video of Prokopovitz interviewed at his Pittsfield home. His demeanor abruptly changed as investigators asked more questions.

It was a critical piece of evidence. The jury asked to view it again during deliberations.

Marsha remembers seeing that sudden change in his behavior one other time.

Marsha: “I had had a phone call with him where he got like that with me after I had spoken to you in an interview when they had done the big search at the house.”

Sarah: “At that moment, did that change anything for you or confirm what you’d been thinking?”

Marsha: “It confirmed that if he could get so angry with me about something that I had nothing to do with, what else? I hadn’t seen that side of him ever, and it scared me.”

Again, time froze as the jury deliberated for nearly 23 hours. They found him guilty.

Marsha: “I, without a doubt, believe he’s the one responsible.”

Sarah: “They got it right?”

Marsha: “They got it right.”

James Prokopovitz was silent at trial. Marsha Loritz hoped sentencing would bring her answers she’s wanted.

“As much as I didn’t want to go sit up there, I wanted him to see me and that’s when I knew he wasn’t going to tell us anything. I could see it on his face,” says Marsha.

It’s been more than 300 days since Marsha saw him face-to-face. It’s given her time to reflect and reach resolution.

Time has started to move again. She’s finding ways to honor Victoria, volunteer in her name and concentrate on happy memories.

“She loved music, and she loved to dance,” remembers Marsha.

On Saturday, April 23, Marsha Loritz will host her annual Missing Persons Awareness event at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office. She started the event after creating the Wisconsin Missing Persons Advocacy nonprofit to help families of the missing.

Marsha does not like the public eye, but keeps charging forward to make a difference for other families.

“Right now, I think I do this for her and for others and I have no intention of stopping,” says Marsha. “I think my mom would be very proud that something good came from this tragedy.”

The event at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office is Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Several families of the missing will be there.

Marsha Loritz, who's become an advocate for families of missing persons, discusses her mother's case for the first time since her stepfather's conviction.

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