On the morning of May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz left his apartment to go to his school bus stop. It was the first time he walked the two short blocks on his own.
But he never made it to school that day. He vanished somewhere between his home and the bus stop, and was never seen again.
The search for Etan quickly consumed the downtown Manhattan neighborhood where his family lived. Soon afterward, "Missing" posters with Etan's smiling face blanketed the city, followed by media coverage that turned Etan's disappearance into a national story-one that would change our cultural landscape forever.
Thirty years later, May 25 is recognized as National Missing Children's Day, in Etan's honor. But despite the overwhelming publicity his case received, the public knows only a fraction of what happened. That's because the story of Etan Patz is more than a heartbreaking mystery. It is also the story of the men, women, and children who were touched by his life in the months and years after he vanished. It's the story of the agonies and triumphs of the Patz family. It's the story of the extraordinary twists and turns of federal prosecutor Stuart GraBois's relentless pursuit of his prime suspect. From GraBois's creative "outside the box" tactics, to the veteran cop who made his first pedophile bust on a dark Times Square rooftop, to the FBI rookie who cut her teeth chasing the case through the dark recesses of a child molester's mind, this is the story of all the heroic investigators who to this day, thirty years later, continue to seek justice for Etan.
In AFTER ETAN, author Lisa Cohen draws on hundreds of interviews and nearly twenty years of research-including access to thepersonal files of the Patz family-to reveal for the first time the entire dramatic tale.
Emmy-winning TV newsmagazine producer Cohen examines one of the most publicized missing child cases in America. On May 25, 1979, Etan Patz left his family's SoHo loft to walk two blocks to catch his school bus, the first time his parents let him make the trip alone. He was never seen again. Early in the investigation, police interviewed Jose Antonio Ramos, whose "interest in little blond boys" had become known to police, yet they dismissed Ramos as a suspect in the Patz case. But over the years, Ramos repeatedly intimated that he molested and murdered Patz and hid the body. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart GraBois doggedly and shrewdly pursued Ramos, hoping prison informants could coax a confession. Cohen details GraBois's efforts and the pain Stan and Julie Patz endured as years passed and Etan's fate remained a mystery. Perhaps most heart-wrenching is Stan's twice-yearly ritual of mailing Etan's "missing" poster to Ramos in prison, always with the same message: "What did you do to my little boy?" As true crime, this tragic tale is a standout, and Cohen, though no prose stylist, does a creditable job telling it. (May)
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Grand Central Publishing
May 06, 2009
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