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Entries in Milk Carton (2)

Friday
Apr202012

Etan Patz May Have Disappeared Just Steps from Home

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Authorities on Friday began the first full day of digging for new evidence in the Etan Patz case following the startling discovery that the missing child may never have made it off his own New York City block.

Patz's 1979 disappearance sparked a massive city-wide search then, but now the FBI and New York City police believe they may find evidence in what was at the time a handyman's basement workshop, just steps away from where the boy was last seen.

The dig is taking place in a small basement room that belonged to Othniel Miller, now 75, and which was also frequented by the case's longtime prime suspect, Jose Ramos.

Federal agents and New York City police began Thursday to tear up the concrete floor of the basement at 127 Prince St. in the SoHo section of Manhattan.

Patz was 6 when he disappeared on the morning of May 25, 1979, soon after leaving his parents' apartment at 113 Prince St., the first time he was to walk to the school bus stop by himself.

Prosecutors reopened the cold case two years ago and began focusing on the Prince Street basement room following a positive hit by NYPD and FBI cadaver dogs.

Special odor-absorbing pads were placed in the room, capturing the scent of human remains -- even decades old -- that police cadaver dogs were able to detect.

Investigators then twice interviewed Miller before obtaining a warrant and beginning the dig.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said an array of new technology unavailable to law enforcement in 1979, including x-rays and black lights, are being used in the investigation. The new investigation is also reexamining the decades-old assumption that Patz was abducted by convicted pedophile Jose Ramos. Ramos, now in prison for an unrelated case, was never charged with Patz's abduction.

The preparations for the search included mapping the basement, making sketches, taking photographs and other procedures for collecting evidence. According to sources, the area of the basement where the dog picked up the scent appears to be one that had been resurfaced with fresh concrete at or shortly after the time of Patz's disappearance.

The basement was searched in 1979, the year the boy disappeared, but the floor was never dug up.

Since then, drywall has been put up over the room's brick walls. The drywall will be removed and the bricks examined and tested for blood evidence using advanced forensic techniques that were not available three decades ago, officials said.

The floor will also be dug up in a search for human remains, clothing or other evidence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr192012

Etan Patz Search Leads to Handyman's Basement 33 Years Later

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A fresh investigation into the disappearance 33 years ago of a little boy named Etan Patz led to the Manhattan basement workshop of a handyman named Othneil Miller on Thursday.

Investigators believe that Patz, who was 6 years old when he vanished in 1979, was in Miller's basement the night before he disappeared, when Miller befriended the boy and gave him a dollar, sources told ABC News.

Federal agents and New York City police began to tear up the concrete floor of the basement at 127 Prince St. in the SoHo section of Manhattan. The basement was Miller's workshop in 1979.

Patz's disappearance as he walked to the bus stop alone for the first time in his young life has haunted the city. The search for Patz has been one of the largest, longest-lasting and most heart-wrenching hunts for a missing child in the country's recent history.

The new investigation is also re-examining the decades-old assumption that Patz was abducted by convicted pedophile Jose Ramos. Ramos, now in prison for an unrelated case, was never charged with Patz's abduction.

Thursday's probe, which was reopened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in 2010, began with an interview of Miller.

Based on that interview, law enforcement sources said, a dog was brought to the scene as a warrant was drawn up. The cadaver dog got a positive hit for possible human remains. The warrant was served and the preparations for the excavation, expected to last five days, began.

For Stu Grabois, the assistant U.S. attorney who spent 27 years on the case, it was good news to hear of the new probe.

"I am pleased that Cy Vance is exploring everything that can help to bring justice to the Patz family," Grabois said.

According to sources, the area of the basement where the dog picked up the scent appears to be one that had been resurfaced with fresh concrete at or shortly after the time of Patz's disappearance.

Sources told ABC News that even if a body had been kept for 24 hours or less and then moved, a trained dog could pick up the scent decades later.

The basement was searched in 1979, the year the boy disappeared, but the floor was never dug up.

Since then drywall has been put up over the room's brick walls. The drywall will be removed and the bricks examined and tested for blood evidence using advanced forensic techniques that were not available three decades ago, officials said. The floor will also be dug up in a search for human remains, clothing or other evidence.

"It's a joint FBI-NYPD search for human remains, clothing or personal effects," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told reporters outside the building after investigators entered using a search warrant.

For the Patz family, it has been more than three decades of agonizing investigations and years of wondering what happened to their blond son with the gorgeous smile.

In an interview with 20/20 in 2009, the boy's father, Stan Patz, said, "I still gag with fear that this child must have felt...when he realized he was being betrayed by an adult."

The case had been dormant until Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. reopened the case in 2010. Former D.A. Robert Morgenthau had declined to proceed with the case, citing insufficient evidence.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio