Etan PatzIt was almost 33 years ago that a 6-year-old boy, Etan Patz, headed out to his school bus stop in New York by himself for the first time. I imagine him filled with excitement and a sense of independence as he started his journey there by himself ... but he never made it. His mother didn't know he was missing until he didn't come home from school that day. She later found out he'd never been in class.
A huge search ensued, and his picture was put on milk cartons across the country to aid in finding him -- the first known time this tactic was used to find missing children. Jose Antonio Ramos -- a drifter and friend of Etan's babysitter -- was charged in Etan's death in 2001, but no body was ever found. No final closure was reached.
Then the case was reopened in 2010, and today there was a major development that could finally solve this case and bring his family some bit of peace.
According to CNN, a basement in Lower Manhattan is currently being torn apart in a search for clues. Officials say the move is based on new and old evidence, and there may be some connection to an as of yet unnamed carpenter Etan met the day before he disappeared. A dog has picked up the scent of human remains.
"We are cautiously optimistic that the search will be helpful," FBI Special Agent Tim Flannelly told CNN.
If they do find a body, it certainly won't be joyous news, but it hopefully will finally provide the closure for which Etan's family must long. I'm sure they've imagined thousands of different scenarios as to what happened to their son, and maybe they've even held onto a little bit of hope that he's still out there somewhere. Because without a body, there are just too many unknowns. As a parent, I can't imagine a worse fate.
I think of all the other families out there who have faced similarly terrifying and heartbreaking losses over the past 33 years. I ache for those that will inevitably follow in the next 33 years. There's little we can do to ease their misery, but bringing this monumental case to a close would at least offer some small hope that there is some justice in the world.
Do you remember the Etan Patz case when it happened back in 1979? Are you surprised to see this new turn in the case now?