The Search for the Remains of Etan Patz

April 19th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized


As I type this the FBI is searching a basement on Prince Street for the remains of Etan Patz, the six year old boy who went missing in 1979. If you were living in New York at the time, this case probably still haunts you. The building they’re sifting through is within a block of where Etan lived at the time he went missing. The FBI must have a new lead or new information (I read that they’ve searched this building before).

When I was writing my book about the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad, I also interviewed the head of Missing Persons. I’ll never forget it. In my book, I wrote about how detectives keep their case files in brown, accordion-style folders that look like something school children might carry. Most cases take up only one folder. If it’s a complex case, and the folders start piling up, eventually they’re moved into a cardboard carton. As the case grows, the detectives start stacking cartons. A big case might ending up filling one to six cartons.

The cartons for Etan Patz filled an entire wall, front to back, and from floor to ceiling. It was a dramatic representation of just how hard they worked that case. They’d done everything they humanly could, and they were never going to give up on Etan Patz.

Here are some shots of what’s happening down there right now. The blue canopy is covering the entrance to the building they’re checking.

Etan Patz Crime Scene

It’s a mob scene of media and neighbors and people like me, who never forgot Etan Patz. Such a lovely street, to be the site of something so horrible. But I guess every place on earth was once the site of something horrible.

Etan Patz Crime Scene

Etan Patz Crime Scene

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  1. 3 Responses to “The Search for the Remains of Etan Patz”

  2. By Karen (the one in North Carolina) on Apr 19, 2012

    How time flies. He was six when he disappeared and I just heard on the news that Etan would be 40 years old this year if he had lived. Gone for 34 years . . .

  3. By Nora on Apr 19, 2012

    So very sad. Does his family still live in the area?

  4. By Stacy Horn on Apr 23, 2012

    They never moved. They wanted to be there in case Etan came home one day. Which of course makes an already sad a thousand million times sadder.

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