It was Friday morning, before the 1979 Memorial Day weekend; Julie Patz, who ran a day-care in SoHo, was busy tending to two children, both were two years old back then.
One was her own younger son, and another was a kid who stayed the night. Her first child, Shira, did not even want to get out of bed that morning.
Etan, the second child, and oldest son in the family, had an entirely different morning. He was six years old and mainly motivated that day.
It had been a while since he had this idea of going to the bus stop independently. Mrs. Patz reluctantly agreed to that idea. So Etan packed his bag, put on his usual Eastern Airlines cap, and off he went carrying a $1 bill to get a soda on the way.
As it turned out, that would be the last time Mrs. Patz saw Etan. His family and the police would have no idea what happened to him until 33 years later.
Knowing that Etan did not come home by afternoon, his mother made some calls and learned he had not made it to school after all; he had not even reached the bus stop.
Etan Patz disappeared. Following many years of investigation that failed to bring any good news, he was ultimately declared legally dead in 2001. It would take another decade until someone was held responsible. Here is a revisit to the case.
10 Possible Suspects
Even with all the attention from the media, the authorities, and the public, the disappearance of Etan remained an answerless mystery. Many theories were floating around, yet every one of them always seemed to hit a dead end.
The police even found at least two suspects; one of them was Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester who had a relationship with a woman once hired by the Patz family to walk Etan home from school.
9 Civil Lawsuit Against Ramos
In the late 1980s, during questioning by investigators, Ramos confessed to luring Etan to his apartment the day he went missing, then leaving him without harm.
In 2002, investigators spent eight hours searching the basement of a building where Mr. Ramos had previously lived. They did uncover bone fragments, but they were of animals, not humans.
No charges were filed against Ramos in the disappearance of Etan Patz. However, the Patz remained convinced that Ramos was guilty and filed a civil lawsuit against him in 2001. They won the case, were awarded $2 million, which they never collected.