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Etan Patz (October 9, 1972 – May 25, 1979)

Etan Kalil Patz was born in New York City. He grew up in a loft building near the corner of Prince Street and West Broadway. He was nearing the end of his year in kindergarten when, on May 25, 1979, he was kidnapped while walking to his bus stop for the first time by himself. His bus stop was only two blocks away from his building.

Patz’ father was a photographer and
plastered photos throughout New York City. Initially (and for several years), police focused on a convicted sex offender, Jose Ramos as their prime suspect. Unable to obtain enough evidence, the Patz case went cold. In 2001, Patz was declared legally dead.

After the appointment of Cy Vance Jr. as New York City District Attorney in 2010, the Patz case was re-opened after a new tip was received by a family member of Pedro Hernandez. He was soon brought in for questioning. In May 2012, he confessed to the murder of Patz. At the time, Hernandez was 18 and a store clerk. He took Patz to the basement of his store, promising a soda. He strangled and killed Patz instead. He was not able to explain why he had killed the boy, other than that it was not sexually motivated. It has been documented that Hernandez suffered from mental illness. A search of the basement, surrounding area and Hernandez’ home did not turn up the remains of Patz. Hernandez told police he dumped Patz’ body in a garbage bin.

In the 1980s, a nationwide movement began to bring crimes against children to the forefront. Patz was the first child to be featured on milk cartons. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated May 25 as “National Missing Children’s Day.” Etan Patz’ case is still regarded as one of the most well-known missing child cases in the U.S.

In November 2012, Hernandez was indicted for the murder of Etan Patz and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping. In May 2015, a mistrial was declared after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Eleven jurors voted to convict, but one held out as he wasn’t convinced that Hernandez confessed because he was too suggestible.

Jury selection for the re-trial was expected to begin on February 22, 2016. Patz was only 6 years old at the time of his disappearance.