The first child to appear on the milk carton Etan Patz disappeared 35 years ago from a New York City neighborhood. Etan Patz disappearance shook parents across the nation to the reality of a safe America for kids. Six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared in 1979 on the first day his parents allowed him to walk to school by himself. Etan’s disappearance launched a massive search and eventually became the catalyst for a missing children’s movement symbolized by Etan’s photo on a milk carton. The man who confessed to the kidnapping and murder of Patz went on trial Friday.
The lead suspect Pedro Hernandez was a teenage clerk near Etan’s bus stop; he lured the boy into the store’s basement and then strangled him. Hernandez made a videotaped confession in 2012 and re-enacted the crime for investigators. Hernandez’s arrest, 33 years to the day after Etan disappeared, upended a long-held and widespread belief among many — including law enforcement officials, the boy’s parents and a New York civil court judge — that another man was responsible.
The blond, blued-eyed child was among the first missing children to appear on a milk carton. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated the day he vanished — May 25 — National Missing Children’s Day. Yet after more than three decades of investigations, no trace of him has ever been found. The Defense team for Hernandez is claiming he is mentally ill and has a very low IQ. They also claim that the video taped confession was coerced after enduring six hours of interrogation. In 1982, investigators began looking at Jose Antonio Ramos, a mentally disturbed Bronx man. He had dated one of Etan’s babysitters, who would later accuse him of molesting her son. Police learned that Ramos had tried to lure some boys into a drainpipe in the Bronx and found pictures of young boys resembling Etan inside the pipe.
The parents of Etan allowed their son to be declared legally dead, so they were able to sue Ramos in civil court. In 2004, the court declared Ramos responsible for Etan’s death. Ramos served more than 20 years on a child molestation conviction in an unrelated Pennsylvania case. He has been ordered to testify as a material witness in the Hernandez trial. Hernandez’s attorney says “he has visions and hears voices.” Even though Patz’s abduction and murder is a horrible thing, the country has gained many resources in the hunt for missing children including the FBI’s CARD (Child Abduction Rapid Deployment) teams, which are response teams specially trained by the Justice Department to deal with child abductions and we have Amber Alerts, sex offender mapping software.