Mother of 3 argued with husband over Sandy-ravaged home, then vanished

NEW YORK -- Peter Brabazon thought his wife, Maria, would be eager to move forward with renovations on their Sandy-ravaged home in Massapequa, New York.

The couple had been living at a property they owned in Whitestone, Queens, while plans were made to re-build their damaged house, which overlooked the water.

"I brought home house plans," Peter Brabazon told WPIX recently about a late August night in 2015. "She said it's not what she wanted. She just exploded."

The disagreement over the location of a stairway in the Massapequa house spawned one of Maria's "episodes," according to her two, adult daughters and her husband. The couple also has a son.

By September 5, 2015, 56-year-old Maria had spent several nights sleeping in her silver mini-van, instead of coming home.

With her husband upstate for Labor Day weekend, Maria Brabazon called her son and two daughters to say she loved them. She had gotten the minivan checked, because her inspection certificate expired, and she stopped at BJ's in College Point to buy a bottle with 180 sleeping pills.

At 3 p.m., Maria Brabazon left the Whitestone house with a white plastic bag. She had left her phone, wallet and identification behind.

Surveillance footage showed her turning the corner on 152nd Street, but she is never seen again. Brian Sweeney, a private investigator with McCann Protective Services, theorized she may have gotten into a car.

"In two years, no body has turned up," Sweeney said. "If she had committed suicide, she would have turned up somewhere."

"I feel like she is still alive," her 25-year-old daughter, Christine, told WPIX.

But not everyone is so certain.

For the first time, on this two year anniversary of Maria's disappearance, her family is revealing she suffered from "severe, psychotic depression" at times.

Born in Austria, she worked as a young Au Pair in the Catskill Mountains in the 1980s.
That's where she met her future husband more than thirty years ago.

"She had imbalances," Peter Brabazon said. "She got angry very quickly."

Maria Brabazon had tried to commit suicide before, by taking sleeping pills in 2009, but Nassau County police tracked her down by tracking her cell phone. When Brabazon disappeared in 2015, she left her cell phone at the house in Queens.

Yet her daughters think she may have wanted to start over somewhere.

"She had mentioned, 'I wish I could just start over and have a new life and disappear,'" 27-year-old Pauline said.

The daughters remembered a loving mother who nurtured them from childhood to adulthood.

"Growing up, she took very good care of us," Pauline remembered. "Made sure we would brush teeth before bed, eat healthy and do our homework."

Christine recalled that when she saw her mother after her mom's suicide attempt in 2009, " I just really cried once I saw her. She promised she would never do it again."

The daughters said their mother disappeared when they were both pregnant with their first babies.

"She thought she would have to watch our kids, while we were working," Christine said.

"I think she's with somebody," Pauline remarked.

The NYPD investigated the 2015 disappearance, using helicopters and cadaver dogs near Fort Totten and the Clearview Golf Course, places close to Long Island Sound that Maria Brabazon was known to spend time at. But the search turned up nothing.

Peter Brabazon said his wife used to attend meetings with Jehovah's Witnesses and spent hours writing Bible verses.

WPIX met up with an elder from the Bayside Kingdom Hall, where Maria Brabazon used to attend meetings once a year.

"We lost pretty much all contact with her," Dennis Novick said. "She was a very nice person. She was upset much of the time."

Peter Brabazon said his wife blamed him for much of her unhappiness.

"One of the last things she said to me is, 'I'm not crazy,'" Peter Brabazon recalled.

"If she walked off and is still alive somewhere, we'd like her to notify us."