The search for Etan Patz, who was the first missing child to have his picture placed on the side of a milk carton in 1979, has resumed. Police and FBI agents are searching a Manhattan building’s basement that was located on the same block that Patz lived on. Investigators did not tell the media the circumstances that prompted the revised search.
“There have been a variety of elements … a variety of information and sources of information” that came together, said Special Agent Tim Flannelly of the FBI’s New York office.
On Friday, May 25, 1979, the 6-year-old left his apartment to walk the two blocks to catch the school bus; however, he never made it to his destination. His mother reported him missing when he failed to return home from school at 3:30 that afternoon.
An intensive citywide manhunt was launched that included over 100 police officers, which turned into a nationwide media frenzy, leading to the milk carton campaign. Unfortunately, Etan was never found and in 2001, he was legally declared dead.
Jose Antonio Ramos, a friend of Etan’s babysitter was the prime suspect in Etan’s disappearance but has never been charged. While serving a 20-year sentence in Pennsylvania for sexually abusing a child, it was reported through prison informants that he admitted to being involved in Etan’s disappearance. In 2004, he was found guilty in a civil suit for Etan’s disappearance but still has yet to be legally charged.
Etan’s father, Stan Patz, to this day sends Ramos a missing poster of his son to him in prison on what would be Etan’s birthday and disappearance anniversary, with a message of “What did you do to my little boy?” written on it.
Police have indicated that the search of the building’s basement is due to a re-examination of the evidence. Some of the tools being used during the search include a jackhammer. Neighbors in the area have reported that search dogs are going in and out of the building.
According to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, there is drywall in the basement that wasn’t there in 1979, and authorities plan to remove it and dig through the basement and brick walls.