April 19, 2012 at 7:09 PM
FBI and NYPD investigators hammered away at the foundation of 127B Prince Street in hopes of closing the 33-year-old case of the missing Etan Patz, one of the first children to be featured in a ‘missing child’ ad on the side of a milk carton.
Mid-afternoon in downtown New York, onlookers watched from their Prince Street apartments as investigators tore at a building on their streets.
Patz went missing on May 25, 1979 at the age of six on his way to the school bus stop. His case was recently reopened for the first time since 2000 in lieu of new evidence, according to an article in the New York Times.
In the preceding weeks, investigators had taken cadaver dogs to the basement of the building, which once housed the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. The building is only one block from the bus stop where Patz had gone missing, according to the article.
The investigation was quite the spectacle in its location in New York’s famous SOHO district. The area, famous for its art scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was overwhelmed with the scene of the building’s removal.
Ralph Ristenbatt, senior research assistant and instructor in forensic science at Penn State, commented on the forensics of the case as investigators searched for blood and Patz’ remains in the drywall.
“If they find it in the concrete, drywalls, or other similar places, it obviously puts a wrench in the situation,” he said. “I’m not quite sure what they’re dealing with up there. The child’s body is there; hopefully they’ll be able to find it.”
Missing children reports are not uncommon. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 797,500 children went missing in one year. Only 115 cases involved “stereotypical kidnapping,” according to the DOJ. Stereotypical kidnappings involve someone who does not know the child and takes him or her.
There are currently 61 cases similar to that of Etan Patz.
By Zachary Bunsick