Etan Patz case reopened

·Claudine Zap

The six-year-old boy who went missing from the Soho area of New York City in 1979 is back in the news. Police and the FBI are investigating a possible lead into the 33-year-old case of Etan Patz, the first missing child to appear on the side of a milk carton.

The child disappeared on the way to school on the morning of May 25, 1979. It was the first time he was allowed to walk the two blocks to the bus stop alone.

A tip apparently has led officials to the basement of a building on the corner of Prince and Wooster streets, about a block and a half from where Etan had lived with his family.

The name Etan Patz has become a trending topic on Twitter as people weigh in on the case. Shirley Brady noted: "As mom to a 6 y.o. in Soho, it's still held out by locals as cautionary tale." Another wrote, "Boy who disappeared on his way to school in 1979 has been REOPENED! Crazy." One wondered, "Why is fbi and nypd searchin for a kid that disappeared in 1979?"

Good question. This is a case that Stuart GraBois, as an assistant U.S. attorney under Rudolph Giuliani, pursued for years. It became the most famous missing-person case in New York City, prompting a nationwide spotlight on missing children, and generated headlines around the globe. No one was ever convicted of the crime.

The case led to the creation of National Missing Children's Day, marked on May 25, the day the blond-haired, blue-eyed child went missing.

The case has even pointed to a suspect, convicted child molester Julio Antonio Ramos, who is currently in prison. Patz's babysitter had been dating the man, and Ramos did know the kid, but has denied abducting him.

Apparently, new evidence in the case suggests another suspect who lived in the apartment at the time: a local handyman named Othniel Miller, who gave Etan $1 for helping him the night before the disappearance.

The man's name had come up in an earlier investigation, but he was a friend of the Patz family, and the NYPD did not follow the lead.

Investigators plan to be at the site, 127 B Prince St., which is now a Lucky Brand jeans store, for the next two to three days to search for human remains. The Associated Press reports that the excavation has been the result of a recently ordered review of the case by Manhattan's district attorney.

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