On May 25, 1979, a six-year old boy vanished from his SoHo neighborhood never to be seen again except on milk cartons across the country. It was young Etan Patz’s first time walking to the bus stop by himself, a landmark two blocks away from his family loft. His disappearance prompted President Ronald Reagan to declared May 25th National Missing Children’s Day.
In the over 30 years since Etan went missing, no one has been criminally charged, although a lead suspect was brought to civil court by Etan’s family. In 2004, a civil judge decided Jose Ramos was responsible for kidnapping and ultimately killing the young boy; for this to happen, Stan Patz had to have his son declared dead. Although the civil court ruling brought some sort of closure to the Patz parents, they have not received any money from Ramos. Ramos is currently serving time in prison for allegedly molesting an eight-year; he has been a top suspect because at one time he was the boyfriend of Etan’s babysitter and when he was arrested for theft, law enforcement found photographs of young boys in his possession.
Ramos has denied his responsibility in the case of Etan Patz. The fact he is being released in November has prompted the New York Police Department and FBI to look for more evidence. Except more recently, investigators are looking at someone else – Othniel Miller, who hasn’t officially been named a suspect. Old case files indicated that in 1979, Miller had his handyman workshop about a half block away from Etan’s home and en route to the bus stop; then the basement floor looked uneven and like it had been freshly filled in.
About 10 days ago, a cadaver dog picked up a possible human scent, which prompted authorities to start excavating the basement Thursday. By Saturday, the excavation process had been finished but authorities were working through the weekend to examine the scene. Early this morning and late last night, both CNN and NBC News reported that a “stain of interest” detected by luminol was found in the basement.
Miller who is now 75 and living in Brooklyn, has been always willing to cooperate with law enforcement, stated his attorney Michael Farkas. According to the New York Times, Miller blurted out, “What if the body was moved?” when being questioned by the FBI about Etan’s remains possibly being found in his former basement space. Miller’s daughter is confident her father had nothing to do with kidnapping the young boy.
Since Etan went missing, ten detectives have been on the case. During the three decades that the case has been open, certainly some investigators, law enforcement personnel, forensics experts and FBI agents involved with the case have retired while others have begun their criminal justice careers. If the case is solved, it will undoubtedly bring closure to Etan’s parents but also all those who have been trying to close it for the last 33 years.