DA Vance reopens decades-old missing boy case

May 26, 2010 3:01:57 AM PDT
It is a case that has gone unsolved for decades and remains one of the most notorious of its kind. Now, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has reopened the case of Etan Patz, who vanished more than 30 years ago.

Patz was just 6 years old when he vanished from nearby the SoHo home where he lived with his parents. Decades later, the new DA is taking a fresh look at the case.

"At some point, he must have realized that things were going bad," dad Stan Patz told 20/20 last year.

Now, 31 years after his son's kidnapping, Stanley Patz has been told that the case has been reopened. In the 20/20 interview, Stanley expressed the same agony he felt all those years ago.

Etan's abduction during a short walk to the school bus stop on Prince Street made international headlines. He became the first missing child to appear on the side of a milk carton, and he was officially pronounced dead in 2001.

"I still gag with the fear that this child must've felt when he realized he was betrayed by an adult," Stanley said.

The prime suspect in the case, Jose Ramos, is in prison for molesting two boys. He was never convicted of kidnapping or harming Etan, but law enforcement found that he had some connection to the little boy, at one time living nearby and dating a woman who used to walk Etan to school.

Stuart Grabois, who worked on the case as an assistant U.S. attorney and is now an adviser to the Patz family, believes there is enough evidence to prove Ramos guilty. But Ramos has long professed his innocence in the Patz case.

"I have no comment on the Patz case whatsoever," Ramos said years ago. "I don't know anything that Grabois knows. Why don't you ask Grabois about it?"

Ramos was found responsible for Etan's death in a 2004 civil case. He was ordered to pay $2 million to the Patz family. They haven't seen a cent. Ramos is scheduled to be released from prison November 2012.