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What Happened to Etan Patz

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“Priority?” says Snyder now. “You can see how much priority it got!” She’s especially dismayed that even though Stan met with the D.A.’s office, Morgenthau himself didn’t sit down with the Patzes as requested. (The D.A.’s office has declined to comment.)

Snyder goes back a long way with GraBois; they used to face off in court, he as a young public defender, she an assistant D.A. So she listens carefully to his judgment.

“I’ve always been convinced of the two informants’ credibility and of the viability of the other evidence,” says GraBois. “That evidence points squarely at Jose Ramos. I think he destroyed the body, and in fact has stated that they’ll never be able to get him because they’ll never have a body. I think it’s time for another push. Time is running out.”

When I last reached out to her, Sandy Harmon was still living in New York. As for Ramos, he’s not talking much these days. I produced his only television interview eighteen years ago, but when I was working on my book, he refused to meet. A few months ago, however, he began writing me, decrying the injustice of his case and asking for a few thousand dollars to replace his typewriter, art supplies, and television. Ramos also wrote that he was mentally and physically abused, starting from the age of 5. “There was no one to complaint [sic] about the treatment I was forced to endure as a child.”

In prison, according to Fischer, Ramos would say of Etan, “I honor him every day.” Perhaps one day his honor will win out.


*Some names have been changed.

Adapted from After Etan: The Missing Child Case That Held America Captive, by Lisa R. Cohen (Grand Central Publishing). © 2009 by Lisa R. Cohen. All rights reserved.


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