NO sign of missing Etan Patz as FBI ends search of suspect's basement - but could boy's silent sister hold key to his disappearance?
- Building being searched housed the workspace of carpenter Othniel Miller
- Miller's ex-wife accused him of raping his niece but he was never charged
- Authorities say he became aroused when looking at images of pictures
- Cadaver-sniffing dog picked up scent of human remains at property after missing boy's mother led them back to Miller
- Chief suspect Jose Ramos worked for him at the time of disappearance
- Etan may have told his sister about unwanted advances from anyone
- Shira Patz 'shut down' in recent interviews with FBI
The FBI wound down its search for Etan Patz's remains today as it emerged they believe his older sister could have a vital piece of information that will lead them closer to her brother's killer.
Shira Patz was eight when Etan disappeared from the streets of New York on May 25, 1979.
Two men who lived and worked close to the Patz family, on Manhattan's Prince Street, are the chief suspects in the case - Jose Ramos, who is serving time in a Pennsylvania jail for the sexual abuse of two other boys, and Othniel Miller, who police have been zeroing in on after his ex-wife told them he raped his ten-year-old niece.
An FBI source told the New York Times that Shira Patz has stopped answering questions about her brother, but is seen as an important witness because they believe if any strangers offered any inappropriate advances against Etan, he would have told her.
Search: The ex-wife of Othniel Miller claims that Miller, right, raped his niece, 10, years after Etan Patz, left, disappeared; sources say this is why Miller's former basement is being dug up decades after Etan vanishedDenial: Miller, centre, has pleaded his innocence over the claims he was involved in Etan's disappearanceEnds: The last dumpster with material from the basement of 127 Prince Street is removed from the scene today and authorities say no obvious signs of human remains have been found
FBI and police authorities were today winding down their work at the site in Manhattan. Chief police spokesman Paul Browne says the case remains a missing-person investigation, but authorities found no obvious human remains.
Othniel Miller has been questioned several times by police in the last month after his ex-wife told them about the alleged rape of his niece. Julie Patz was also said to have told agents to look again at the handyman, who befriended Etan before he vanished and hired Ramos to do odd jobs for him.
During one interview, agents watched the75-year-old as he grew aroused while he looked through a book of images of children, two law enforcement officials told the Times.
When authorities told him cadaver dogs picked up the scent of human remains at his basement he allegedly blurted out: 'What if the body was moved?'
Paper, strands of hair and other 'possible' bits of forensic evidence have been unearthed during the excavation of the basement but so far 'nothing conclusive' has emerged.
Chief suspect in the case since the 1980s Jose Ramos initially told police he attempted to molest Etan but denied killing him. He dated the six-year-old's babysitter and was said to know every stop on the school bus route - and specifically which stop Etan got off at.
But Agent MacDonald, who re-interviewed all the original witnesses and all the agents who worked on the case, said he was open to ideas that it was not Ramos.
Halt: The excavation was suspended on Sunday due to heavy rains in the North-East
Aerial view: The New York City apartment building where FBI agents and New York City Police had been searching since ThursdayPart of their thinking, the official told the Times, is that with his other victims, Ramos earned their trust before he molested them and was often seen in the company of children.
The FBI have not been able to find any witness that can establish any form of relationship between him and Etan.
'If you look at that pattern of behavior and apply it to Etan, you have to assume there will be a prior relationship, and it’s just not there,' the official told the paper.
They say Miller, who was interviewed in 1979 and multiple times since then, 'sky rocketed to the top of the list' of suspects after his ex-wife Phyllis told them about the rape.
But his stepson defended Miller and said the claims were not accurate 'in any way, form or fashion'.
He also said his stepfather had nothing to do with Etan's disappearance, something his lawyer Michael Farkas reiterated over the weekend.
Jason Webley said of his stepfather: 'He's not like that. He loved children. [Phyllis] made that up. She's a liar, she's sick in her head, she's crazy. I guess she's still bitter and angry about their past relationship.'
Miller has never been charged over the alleged rape, and Mr Webley suggested: 'I'm pretty sure she would have filed charges'.
He also said that he knew Miller's niece well, and she had never mentioned the alleged abuse.
Evidence: New York police and FBI agents remove pieces of concrete which will be sent off for analysis for clues to the disappearance of Etan PatzExcavation: The team finished digging up the floor of the basement on Saturday and the search wound down today
Though they have finished their search after five days, pieces of concrete have been sent away for forensic testing and authorities are hoping it produces evidence, otherwise the case is at a dead end.
On Saturday, they discovered a 'stain of interest' believed to consist of 'an organic substance' which sources say could be human blood.
The stain was cut out of the drywall and sent to FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, for forensic analysis.
It emerged on Sunday that the basement was also a playroom where Etan's sister and other neighborhood children hung out around the time of the boy's disappearance.
There are no parks near SoHo, so parents banded together and installed tile and painted the walls, to make it somewhere the children could go and play.
Keeping tabs: Etan's mother Julie looks out of her window at the scene of the investigation on Saturday
Looking on: Stanley Patz took pictures of the dig from his fire escape in the SoHo area
Police have been aware of Miller, a Jamaican immigrant, since the boy vanished as he walked alone for the first time to get to his school bus stop.
However, Jose Ramos was held responsible for the boy’s death in a civil case. Ramos is currently in jail serving a 20-year sentence for abusing two other boys. He is due for release in November.
It emerged yesterday that police had the opportunity to search the Manhattan basement formerly belonging to Miller soon after the six-year-old went missing - but decided not to because it would be too costly.
The FBI and NYPD returned to the place they had considered taking jackhammers to 33 years ago after questioning handyman Miller several times over the last few months.
Speaking outside the Soho property being dug up, Dr Lawrence Kobilinsky told the New York Daily News that improved technology would enable identification of skeletal remains.
'Over the past 30 years, we have benefited from improved technology in forensic science,’ Kobilinsky, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the paper. ‘Identifying the bones of Etan Patz is certainly do-able.’
However, he described it as ‘questionable’ that the investigation would find any human remains and said the fact cadaver-sniffing dogs had appeared to find something - that could be animal decomposition or ‘somebody’s dinner.’
NYPD and FBI investigators carry pieces of concrete out of a basement building on the corner of Wooster Street and Prince Street in the Manhattan borough of New York as the search for Etan Patz continuesAnalysis: The evidence gathered will be sent to a laboratory for further examination
But even if no remains are found investigators could discover other evidence as the expert believed that the killer likely left behind clues. 'I don’t think they know enough forensics to destroy the evidence,' Kobilinsky told the Daily News. 'So there may very well be, in addition to a body, there may be other trace evidence that still remains even after 30 years.'
Despite the passing of more than three decades human bones can determine the age, height and ethnicity of a victim, he said.
A key issue is the fact that the 75-year-old performed a sudden renovation on the basement shortly after Etan's disappearance on May 25, 1979, in a house he would have passed on the way to the school bus belonging to a man who had befriended him just the night before.
Police sources told the New York Post that when they questioned Miller about pouring concrete over the floor he gave them permission to tear it up at their own cost, but cops decided it wasn't worth it.
The night before the disappearance of the six-year-old - who became the first missing child to appear on milk cartons - Miller was seen giving him a $1 bill as salary for helping him with his business.
Michael Farkas spoke to reporters outside Miller's apartment and said his client was a 'wonderful, hard-working man' who has been cooperating with the case for 30 years - though headmitted it was the first time he had ever met him.Mystery: Jose Ramos, was found responsible for Etan's death in a civil case, and Ramos is serving a 20 year jail sentence for molesting two other young boys
Mr Farkas said his client is 'disturbed' by the accusations.
He said: 'I'm going to assist him in cooperating to the fullest extent possible. He did not do this and denies any role in anything that may have happened.
'Like the rest of New Yorkers, Mr Miller is very disturbed by what's happening, he has always been very moved by what happened to the boy.'
The suspect’s son, Ansel Miller, spoke to the Post to saying that his father ‘didn’t get so much as a parking ticket’ in his life.
He told them that his father had an alibi and allowed police access to the basement at the time and added that Miller had suffered a stroke and a bad fall in recent years.
While the excavation of the basement has been underway, Etan's parents Stan and Julie Patz have been holed up in the same apartment they have lived in since his disappearance - wondering if the remains of their son had been mere yards away all this time.
Julie Patz was pictured watching from her window on Friday as FBI and local police broke up the floor of the workspace and carried away debris. Stanley Patz was spotted taking pictures of the crime scene from his fire escape just a block away.
They refused to speak to the media but posted a notice up outside their apartment saying: 'To all hard-working and patient MEDIA PEOPLE: The answer to all your questions at this time is "No Comment".'
His parents have never moved from their home, in the hope their son would one day find his way back. Nor have they changed their phone number, as Etan knew it off by heart.
Etan's disappearance brought national attention to the issue of missing kids, with May 25 declared National Missing Children’s Day.
Grieving: Julie Patz watched from her New York apartment as police hunted for clues in the disappearance of her six-year-old son Etan, who vanished over 33 years ago
Day two: FBI agents and New York City police officers remove concrete to sift through for evidence from the Prince Street apartment building after dogs picked up the scent of human remainsInterest: The nation's media gather at the New York site where the search for Etan Patz has resumed two years after it was reopen by Cy VanceThough Miller was never named as a suspect in the initial investigation, police say they did search and examine his basement but didn't take it further because he had a credible alibi at the time.
When the FBI went back to Miller recently and told him their sniffer dogs picked up the smell of human remains, he allegedly blurted out: 'What if the body was moved?' according to the Post.
Miller was arrested in Florida in May 2004 for driving without a license. He owns two properties in the state, valued between $30,000 and $40,000.Heavy duty: Utility workers with jackhammers and saws helped chip away an area around aging pipes before law enforcers carried out the basketball-size chunks of rubbleScene: FBI agents take sifting equipment into the basement where NYPD and FBI investigators equipped with jackhammers and pickaxes are searching for the remains of Etan Patz in Soho, New YorkMap: Etan went missing after leaving his home on 113 Prince Street on May 25, 1979. Today, police are searching premises a block away, on 127 Prince for his remains
He was last seen walking two blocks from his lower Manhattan home to a bus stop for the ride to school wearing his favorite Eastern Air Lines Future Flight Captain hat - something his parents said he would even wear to bed.
It was the first time his parents had let their son walk to school alone, after he begged them, saying all his friends were allowed to do it.
In May 2010, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said they were taking a fresh look at the decades-old case of the missing six-year-old.
Tip off: The SoHo building the FBI have been searching in since 8.30am was along the path where the blond-haired boy disappeared
Hope: Throughout the last 33 years, police - and the Patzes - have re-released pictures of Etan and wanted posters in the hope of either finding him or his body
THE BLOND-HAIRED BOY WHOSE DISAPPEARANCE STARTED A NATIONWIDE MOVEMENT TO FIND MISSING CHILDREN
The only small comfort his parents ever received from their son's abduction was knowing that it had become the catalyst in the search for missing children.
His disappearance prompted such an extensive search that by 1985, it had taken in the whole of America, parts of Europe and even reached Israel.
May 25, the day Etan disappeared, is National Missing Children's Day, which was named by President Reagan in 1983 in honor of the missing six-year-old.
An entire network for tracking missing children emerged since then, including Amber Alerts and pictures on milk cartons - Etan's was the first picture of a missing child to ever be put on a milk carton.
After 30 years the case is still officially open and the world has never forgotten the face of the blue-eyed, blond-haired boy who captivated a nation.
Each administration since Reagan has honored the annual reminder to the nation to renew efforts to reunite missing children with their families and make child protection a national priority.
On the day he disappeared, the school noted Etan's absence but did not notify his parents. It wasn't until 3.30pm his mother Julie realized he was missing and called police.
His father Stan, a professional photographer, dispatched black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him.
The massive search and media attention that followed focused the nation’s attention on the problem of child abduction and lack of plans to address it after it became apparent there was no coordinated effort between federal, state, and local law enforcement, no national response system in place and no central resource to help searching families.
Etan's parents have since become outspoken advocates for missing children.
For years, they refused to change their phone number, in the hope that Etan was alive somewhere, and might call. They never moved in the hope he would return home.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2133984/Etan-Patz-disappearance-Shira-Patz-told-brother-advances-men-vanished.html#ixzz1stBIbszU