6-year-old Etan Patz vanished one spring morning on his way to school.
His face was the first to appear on milk cartons across the country, but the child was never found.
Four decades after his disappearance one man confessed to his murder, but there are many who doubt he is the real killer.
Today we have Amber alerts and social media to spread the news of a missing child, but back in the 1970s, there were few means to raise awareness and alert the general public about such cases.
It was down to the local police to try to solve the mystery, although a kidnap victim could be taken to a different state in a matter of hours.
Things changed after the disappearance of one boy in New York.
The Boy Who Didn’t Make It School
On May 25, 1979, an excited Etan Patz left his house in Manhattan early in the morning.
It was the first time the boy had been allowed to walk the two blocks to the bus stop on his own.
He had his elephant-covered bag slung on his shoulder, his favorite toy cars tucked inside and one dollar to buy himself a soda.
It was the last time his mother, Julie Patz, would see Etan, who never made it to school that day.
When the alarm was raised, the police spared no efforts to find the missing six-year-old
More than 100 officers were dispatched to the area.
They even had police dogs to help them search every building, sometimes going room to room.
No stones were left unturned, but they came up with nothing.
His father, Stanley Patz, was a professional photographer and he had plenty of pictures of the little boy.
Soon Etan’s face was put up on posters all over New York, it was printed in the newspapers and beamed on national television.
It was not enough as the boy could be anywhere by now.
Something had to be done and so it was that Etan Patz was the first missing child whose photo was printed on milk cartons distributed all over the nation.
The Missing Children Milk Carton Campaign
The idea of putting the pictures of missing children on milk cartons had first appeared a few years back in Iowa after the disappearance of two boys.
What had started as a local initiative became a nation-wide program after Etan Patz went missing.
Authorities hoped that someone might see the missing child and recognize him.