One of the most infamous child abduction cases in New York City history may not soon have a conclusion, as one suspect is set to be released and it is being determined whether or not there is enough evidence to charge another suspect in the case can be charged with the crime.
Jose Ramos, the original suspect in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz, is set to be released from a Pennsylvania prison early next month, where he had been serving 25 years on child molestation charges.
6-year-old Etan Patz vanished in his SoHo neighborhood back in 1979, when he left home to walk two blocks to his bus stop by himself for the first time. His disappearance set off a large search, but his body has never been found. Etan Patz was among the first children to have their picture printed on a milk carton. May 25th, the day of Etan’s disappearance, is now recognized as National Missing Children’s Day.
Etan Patz’s father, Stan, was a professional photographer who used his skills to help get his son’s photo out to the public. Etan Patz was declared legally dead in 2001.
Jose Ramos was a convicted child molester, who had been a friend of Etan Patz’s babysitter. Ramos was quickly identified as a suspect in the boy’s disappearance, although there was never enough evidence to prosecute him. Jailhouse informants would later said that Ramos had admitted to knowing what happened to Etan Patz, although Ramos has since denied knowing the boy or what happened to him.
The Patz family would later file a civil lawsuit against Ramos. Ramos was found legally responsible for the boy’s death, although a criminal case could not be filed due to lacking evidence.
Although Ramos was always considered the most likely suspect in the case, another man confessed last spring to killing the boy. Pedro Hernandez, who worked at a local grocery store at the time of the crime, was never named as a suspect until he confessed following a tip to police. Hernandez said that he strangled the boy, then put his body in a garbage bag.
Following his arrest, police searched extensively for evidence against Hernandez. However, there has been no solid evidence to back up his claims of guilt. His lawyer claims that his client suffers from mental illness, and his confession cannot be taken seriously.
Next month, a hearing will be held to determine whether or not Hernandez can be charged.