Thursday, April 19, 2012

McCann Case: EtanPatz - Cadaver Dog Hit 33 Years Later Triggers New Police Probe.

Federal investigators and New York City police got ready to tear up the concrete floor of a Manhattan apartment building today searching for evidence 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared 33 years ago.

A cadaver dog brought to the building's basement indicated a "hit," which helped trigger the new probe.

Investigators are also reexamining the decades old assumption that Patz was abducted by convicted pedophile Jose Ramos. Ramos, now in prison for an unrelated case, was never charged with Patz's abduction.

The search underway today is at 127 Prince St., in the city's SoHo neighborhood. The basement was the workshop of Othneil Miller in 1979.

Federal sources told ABC News that the night before the boy disappeared he had been in the basement where the handyman befriended Patz and gave him a dollar.

Authorities would not say on the record whether Miller was a person of interest in the case, but confirmed they intended to dig up the basement floor.

Just prior to today's search a law enforcement cadaver dog got a hit in the basement that could indicate the current or past presence of human remains.

According to sources, the area of the basement where the dog picked up the scent appears to be one that had been resurfaced with fresh concrete at or shortly after the time of Patz's disappearance.

Sources told ABC News that even if a body had been kept for 24 hours or less and then moved, a trained dog could pick up the scent decades later.

The basement was searched in 1979, the year the boy disappeared, but the floor was never dug up.

Since then drywall has been put up over the room's brick walls. The drywall will be removed and the bricks examined and tested for blood evidence using advanced forensic techniques that were not available three decades ago, officials said.

The floor will also be dug up in a search for human remains, clothing or other evidence.
The material removed will be taken to another site and preserved. Current forensics will allow authorities to look into hollows and to perform sophisticated DNA analysis on any potential evidence.

The search for Patz has been one of the largest, longest lasting and most heart wrenching hunts for a missing child in the country's recent history.

"It's a joint FBI- NYPD search for human remains clothing or personal effects," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told reporters outside the building after investigators entered using a search warrant.

"This process right here, this process that you're witnessing, will take upward of five days," Browne said.

Patz vanished on May 25, 1979 in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan while walking alone to a school bus stop for the first time.

He became the first missing child whose face appeared on the side of a milk carton.

For the Patz family, it has been more than three decades of agonizing investigations and years of wondering what happened to their blond son with the gorgeous smile.

In an interview with "20/20" in 2009, the boy's father Stan Patz said, "I still gag with fear that this child must have felt ... when he realized he was being betrayed by an adult."

The case had been dormant until Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. reopened the case in 2010. Former DA Robert Morgenthau had declined to proceed with the case, citing insufficient evidence.

22 years later: A judge declares Etan Patz dead in June of 2001 at the request of his parents who want to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against Jose Antonio Ramos, the man they believe killed their child. Ramos is currently in jail for child molestation and has allegedly confessed to other inmates that he killed Patz.