In 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz went missing while walking to his New York City school bus stop. Only two blocks from his home, he was never seen again.
Although declared legally dead in 2001, the case was reopened in 2010. The F.B.I. are now currently digging up a Soho basement that Etan would have travelled past when he disappeared after cadaver-sniffing dogs believe that human remains may be present.
I think that there is guarded optimism that they're going to find something, an official said.
Etan disappeared 33 years ago. His disappearance sparked the milk carton campaign and also drew President Ronald Reagan to declare the day he disappeared National Missing Children Day.
We think it sends a message to searching families everywhere that just because it's been a month, or year or 10 years or even 33 years you never close the case until you learn with certainty what happened, Ernie Allen, President and Chief Executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told CNN.
May 25, 1979 - Six-year-old Etan Patz, a first grader begged his parents to let him walk the two blocks to his school bus stop alone. For the first time he did, and disappeared between his loft at 113 Prince Street at the bus stop on West Broadway. Etan was last seen wearing blue pants, a blue corduroy jacket, blue sneakers and a black Future Flight Captain pilots cap.
At 8:10 a.m. the school bus came and Etan didn't get on. The last people Etan was spotted was on the corner of Wooster and Price. A mailman and neighbor were the last known people to see the first grader.
At 3:15 p.m. the school bus returned students to the bus stop. When a neighbor who usually picked up Etan discovered that he hadn't been at school the child's parents realized he was missing.
At 5:15 p.m. police received a call from the Etan's parents, Julie and Stanley. NYPD Detective William Butler and his partner went to the Patzes' loft, and nearly 100 police officers began to search for Etan that evening.
May 26, 1979 - Bloodhounds arrived to continue the search for Etan, with the search reaching from 14th street to Battery Park. Posters of Etan were made to be posted around the city and the media became involved.
May 27, 1979 - A witness claimed to see a boy matching Etan's description talking to a suspicious looking man three blocks from the Corner of Prince and Wooster Street. The suspicious looking man was described as white, around 40-years-old, freckles and dyed blond hair.
June 6, 1979 - The emergency response unit for Etan was disbanded, but his disappearance remained an open case.
1980's - Milk cartons began to feature faces of missing children in an effort to recover them. Etan's face was among the first to appear on the milk cartons.
1982 - Detectives picked up a suspect, Jose Antonio Ramos in the Bronx for an unrelated crime. Ramos, a pedophile, was picked up by police for trying to lure two boys to a drainage tunnel. Police discovered photographs of young boys that looked similar to Etan in the drainage tunnel. Ramos told police that he knew the woman who used to walk Etan to the school bus, but said nothing more about the boy.
The woman admitted to having a romantic relationship with Ramos in 1979, but discovered that he had been molesting her son. She never brought charges against him.
1983 - President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 National Missing Children's Day, the day Etan Patz disappeared.
1985 - Federal prosecutor Stuart GraBois was assigned to Etan's case. GraBois was working under U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani at the time. The prosecutor started looking into Ramos who was at Pennsylvania's Rockview State Penitentiary. GraBois questioned Ramos about Etan and he eventually cracked, telling the prosecutor, I'll tell you everything. I never told anyone any of this before. I want to get it off my chest, reported TruTv.
Ramos told GraBois that he saw a boy matching Etan's desription in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village the morning that he disappeared. After a failed attempt to lure him to his apartment, Ramos said that he put the child on a subway to Washington Heights to visit an aunt. According to TruTv, Etan had no relatives in Washington Heights.
Ramos wouldn't reveal any more information, but GraBois and detectives didn't believe his story.
October 1985 - An Israeli magazine featured a previously unseen photo of Etan. Investigators went to Israel but came up with nothing.
Late 80's/ Early 90's - It was revealed that in the 80's Ramos had previously been travelling with a teen whose age and description matched Etan. Police had a computer generate a photo of what Etan would look like at age 14, and it matched a photo that had been taken of Ramos and the mysterious teen. The search for the teen with Ramos began, but police discovered that theopenede boy had been arrested, and that his prints didn't match Etan's.
Summer 2000 - Police searched a building on east 4th Street in the Lower East Side, the home of Ramos in 1979. No evidence was found.
November 15, 2000 to 2001 - Etan Patz was legally declared dead after his parents signed a petition for the courts. Once Etan was declared dead his parents filed a wrongful-death suit against Ramos.
2004 - A Manhattan civil judge ruled Ramos responsible for Etan's death. The ruling was mainly due to his refusal to contest the case, reported the Associated Press.
May 25, 2010 - Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. reopened Etan's case.
April 19, 2012 - Cadaver dogs have lead investigators to search the basement of 127b Prince Street, a building that Etan would have walked past to get to his bus stop. Investigators are currently removing drywall to expose brick walls that were present when Etan disappeared in 1979. The basement does not have a connection to Ramos, but instead a carpenter and part-time handyman, who according to CNN, met Etan the day before he disappeared. The carpenter had given the boy a dollar. At the time of Etan's death, the basement floor had been newly poured, reported CNN. Police are currently looking for human remains.
Amanda Remling studied journalism at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ.
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