On the morning of May 25, 1979, Etan Patz was sent to make his way to school from his parents’ loft apartment in the Soho district of Manhattan. Etan was well behaved, and the neighborhood was considered a safe place where everyone looked out for everyone else, so it was assumed that Patz’ journey to the school bus pick-up point would be an uneventful one. Two eye-witnesses were the last known people to see Etan as he waited at a near-by intersection to cross the road.
The police were informed when Etan did not return home, and over 100 officers scoured the area. Pictures of the boy were posted all over the city and the media jumped on the case and began reporting sightings from all over the country. One of the more credible witnesses was a person who reported seeing Etan talking to a suspicious looking blonde man near where he was last seen heading towards the bus stop.
Three years after the disappearance police got their first solid suspect in Jose Antonio Ramos. Ramos was a known pedophile who had been caught trying to lure children in to a tunnel in New York where they found child pornography containing young boys with light colored hair similar to Etan’s. Although Ramos admitted having seen Etan traveling to school before, there was not enough evidence to charge him with the crime and he was released.
Ramos was, however, rearrested in 1985, when a new prosecutor was assigned to the case. In a new round of interviews, he began to admit more and eventually admitted to attempting to take a boy fitting Etan’s description back to his apartment for sex, but eventually giving up before sending him on a subway train to visit his aunt. Ramos said that he was 90% certain that the boy was Etan after seeing his face on the news following the disappearance the following day.
Ramos is currently still in Jail on unrelated charges, and each year on Patz’ birthday, his father sends Ramos a copy of his son’s original ‘missing child’ poster with a message written on the back: “What did you do with my little boy?”