Troopers continue the search for a man missing for 21 years

John Sapienza is shown in this undated photo. Sapienza has been missing since approximately Feb. 24, 1997. His case was recently featured in the New York State Police’s weekly Cold Case Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the New York State Police)

ST. JOHNSVILLE — New York State Police are highlighting the 1997 disappearance of a village man in their Cold Case Tuesday series.

State police said they are continuing to investigate the Feb. 24, 1997 vanishing of then 62-year-old John Sapienza.

According to a state police news release, a friend reported Sapienza missing on Feb. 27 of that year after receiving a phone call from Sapienza’s wife that his vehicle, a 1997 Chevy Astro van was found abandoned in a grocery store parking lot in New Hartford, Oneida County.

A manager at the store confirmed the van had been there for about four weeks.

According to the state police wanted/missing webpage, Sapienza was last seen in the vicinity of the 400 block of Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam.


Prior to Sapienza’s disappearance, he had separated from his wife.

According to state police, he planned to travel cross country to visit his daughter in California. He never arrived in California, and has not been heard from again.

Troopers said they believe John is missing under suspicious circumstances. His daughter stated he would not have left possessions behind to start a new life. The case remains unsolved.

At the time of his disappearance, Sapienza was 62 years old, 5’8″ and 135 pounds. He had gray hair, brown eyes and may have a mustache. He would currently be 84 years old.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Troop D Headquarters at (315) 366-6000.