Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

My Baby is Missing!

The Ghost of Etan

Etan Patz
Etan Patz

Etan Patz is still missing. Hope for his survival is all but gone. At the time of his disappearance on May 25, 1979, a massive search was undertaken by police. "We're doing a floor by floor, wall by wall, rooftop by rooftop, backyard by backyard search," said one investigator to the press. Helicopters, search dogs and specially trained bloodhounds were brought in to help with the dragnet. Detectives were able to ascertain that Etan walked along Prince Street, past Greene Street and then somewhere between Wooster Street and West Broadway, he simply disappeared. Someone took him off the street without being noticed and without causing a commotion. The entire neighborhood was turned upside down. "Every loft in the area was gone through, not once but three times," one resident told a reporter from the Times, "right down to the bottom of our dresser drawers!"

Over 500 police personnel and detectives were assigned to the case in the first few days of Etan's disappearance. The investigation led police across America, overseas, into Israel and western Europe. New hope was inspired by the discovery of a photograph in Massachusetts some time ago that strongly resembled Etan. It was found in the possession of a member of NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association. Later, it was proven that the photo was not one of Etan. There have been many ups and downs in the valley of despair for Stanley and Julie Patz.

"I'm fairly certain Etan is no longer with us," said a former prosecutor who worked on the case to reporters, "I'm certain the person responsible is behind bars." But officially, the case is open. Until Etan's body is found, or additional information is received that can be validated, the investigation will go on.

In the meantime, the Patz family continues their courageous, endless journey through a living hell.

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