For the past several days, police and federal agents have been (literally) tearing apart the concrete basement of 127B Prince Street where 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared almost 33 years ago, often helped out with chores. The basement workshop, which belonged to carpenter and handyman Othniel Miller, was never thoroughly searched during the initial investigation, in part because Etan’s mother said he was a “family friend.” But new information has led authorities back to the building. First, there were the FBI dogs that picked up the possible scent of human remains from odor-absorbing pads placed in the room; then there was (per a Times source) the unevenness and discoloration of the concrete floor, poured around the time of Patz’s disappearance; also, the resurfaced allegations that Miller’s ex-wife had made to the FBI that he’d once raped a 10-year-old girl; and, most recently, the discovery of a suspicious stain on one of the walls that may be blood.
The exact nature of the stain will not be known until the FBI lab in Virginia tests the concrete chunk, which investigators chain-sawed out of the wall. But in the meantime, it seems Miller has officially joined Jose Ramos — the onetime boyfriend of Patz’s babysitter who is currently in prison for sexually molesting two other boys — on the suspect list.
Miller, through his lawyer, has maintained his innocence and his full cooperation with the ongoing investigation. He “doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Miller’s daughter told a CNN affiliate the other day. But several sources now say they believe Miller actually saw Patz on the day he disappeared, heading to the school bus stop all by himself (for the first time) in bright sneakers and airline pilot’s cap. According to ABC News, just the day before, Miller had paid Patz his $1 “salary.”