A man who says he was involved in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year old Etan Patz has been taken into custody today, and it is expected that he will be able to provide details about the case that have eluded investigators for more than three decades.
The news comes one day before the 33rd anniversary of Etan's disappearance, when he vanished from a Manhattan sidewalk on his way to the bus-stop--the first time his parents had ever let him walk on his own. Patz became one of the first children ever to grace the side of a milk carton, something which was used for years to aid search efforts for missing children.
Police thought they had a lead in the case just last month, when they searched and excavated the basement of a building that Etan would have passed on his way to the bus stop and which served as a workspace for Othniel Miller, who was the prime suspect in the child's disappearance for a long while. After cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains, however, members of the FBI and police failed to find anything significant in the basement and were forced to give up their search. The focus was then turned on Jose Ramos, a convicted sex offender and the former boyfriend of a woman who babysat Etan, but there was never enough evidence to convict him.
If the man taken into custody today does indeed have a connection to Etan, it will be a bittersweet day for his parents, who never wanted to give up hope for their son even though he was declared legally dead long ago. The family stayed in the same apartment and never changed their phone number in the hopes that some information would come their way.
"We didn't know what had happened to him, so, of course, the thought in the backs of our minds was always that we should be here for him," Stanley Patz told 20/20.
Image credit: Patz imaging