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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Etan Patz death: Man claims role in NYC boy's vanishing

Etan Patz was declared legally dead in 2001

New York City police say they are holding a suspect in custody in connection with the disappearance of a six-year-old boy in 1979.

Police say the suspect has implicated himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz.

Further details are expected to be released later on Thursday.

Etan Patz vanished while walking to a bus stop. His face became one of the first to appear on milk cartons asking for information on missing children.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement on Thursday: "An individual now in custody has made statements to NYPD detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago.

"We expect to provide further details later today."
The man in custody lives in New Jersey and was known to police, having worked and lived in the neighbourhood when Etan went missing, according to a local NBC station.

Police officials are still trying to confirm details of the man's story.

Etan's father Stanley Patz and mother Julie live in the same Soho apartment as they did in 1979
It is understood that the person in custody is not Othniel Miller, a handyman whose former workshop was searched by investigators last month.

In an apparent breakthrough for the decades-old investigation, the Manhattan basement flat was excavated over four days. But no obvious human remains and little forensic evidence were found.

Several containers of rubble and sand from the property, which is near the Patz family home, were hauled away and preserved in case officials need to revisit the excavation.

Mr Miller, who gave Etan a dollar for a chore the boy did for him a day before he was last seen alive, has been questioned by detectives over the past year. But he denies having anything to do with his disappearance.

Etan vanished on 25 May 1979, while walking alone to the school bus stop for the first time, near his home in New York's SoHo district.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared 25 May National Missing Children's Day.

Etan's parents, Stanley and Julie Patz, became outspoken advocates for missing children in the years after their son's disappearance.

The Patzes have not moved since his disappearance and for years refused to change their phone number, hoping that Etan was alive. 

In 2001, however, the family obtained a court order declaring Etan dead as part of a lawsuit in which a convicted child molester was held responsible for their son's death.

A judge ordered Jose Antonio Ramos, who knew Etan's babysitter, to pay $2m (£1.3m) to the Patzes. 

Ramos is serving a 20-year prison sentence for a different case, and is scheduled to be released this year.


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