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Published on Jan 18, 2010
Etan Kalil Patz (October 9, 1972 - unknown; legally dead 2001) was a six-year-old child who disappeared in lower Manhattan on May 25, 1979. At the time, news coverage of Patz's disappearance was made into a media circus in the New York City area. He is arguably the most famous missing child of New York City. His disappearance helped spark the missing children's movement, including new legislation, new awareness, and various methods for tracking down missing children, such as the milk carton campaigns of the mid eighties. On the morning of Friday, May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan put on his prized blue captain's hat and left his SoHo apartment by himselffor the very first timeto walk the two blocks to catch the school bus. He did not reach the bus stop.
When he did not return home from school at 3:30 that afternoon, his mother reported him missing. An intense search, using nearly 100 police officers and a team of bloodhounds, began that evening and would continue for weeks. Various circumstances surrounding this case, such as it being Etan's first time outside alone, made it into a greatly media-driven incident.
In 1991, jailhouse informants claimed that Jose Antonio Ramos, a convicted child sexual abuser imprisoned in Pennsylvania, admitted to his murder. Ramos had been a friend of Etan's one-time babysitter. He promised that no body would be found, saying "It's too horrible. No one would ever represent me". In a special feature on missing children, the New York Post reported on October 23, 1999 that Ramos was the prime suspect in Etan's disappearance.
His parents, Stanley and Julie Patz, pursued a civil case against Ramos, who was found liable for Patz's wrongful death in May 2004. They were awarded a sum of $2 million, which they have never collected, as Ramos is serving a prison term for molesting boys in the State Correctional Institute, Dallas, PA. His scheduled release date is November 11, 2012. Without evidence, a body, or a crime scene, some New York investigators do not believe they will ever be able to convict Ramos for Patz's death.
Each year, on the anniversary of Etan's birthday and his disappearance, Stan Patz sends Ramos a copy of his son's MISSING poster. On the back he types the same message: "What did you do to my little boy?".