Do You Remember the Etan Patz Case?

I do remember the Etan Patz case and as a mother, I can’t imagine going 33 years without knowing what happened to my child. Yet many parents of abducted children never find out what happened to their children.

The FBI has reopened the missing persons investigation of Etan Patz, the first missing child to have his photo on a milk carton. They have a possible new lead and looked yesterday at a location on Prince Street which is now a Lucky Jeans store and less than one block from Etan’s former home. Dozens of FBI and NYPD investigators swarmed into the basement of the location.

Six  year old Etan went missing in 1979 from the SoHo area of New York City when for the first time he was allowed to walk the two blocks alone from his home to bus stop. Remember it was over 30 years ago. Parents thought their children were relatively safe back then. This case changed that.

I believe little Etan must have been so proud and happy to be walking alone to the bus stop that morning…and how his parents must have blamed themselves after the fact for allowing him to walk alone. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and there’s no shortage of blame parents may heap on themselves in retrospect.

Since milk cartons have evolved into plastic jugs, they don’t put the photos of missing children on them any more. Where it took days and weeks to get the face of a missing child before the public then, now with technology it only takes a matter of minutes.

Today the Amber Alert has taken the place of the milk carton. Amber Alerts pop up immediately on message boards on major highways in a matter of minutes. Amber Alerts can even be downloaded to email boxes and cell phone messages.

Apparently the effectiveness of Amber Alerts can be maximized. Here is an article on the US Department of Justice website for maximizing the effect of an Amber Alert.

The figures are staggering. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates indicate 800,000 children, 18 years of age or younger,  go missing every year in the United States.  203,900 children were the victims of family abductions. 580, 200 children  were the victims of non-family abductions. Only 115 children were the victims of the stereotypical kidnap/killing of the type we see portrayed in thrillers and murder mystery stories. This is where the child does not know the abductor, or the abductor is a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, demands ransom, maims, and/or kills the child. Or intends to keep the child permanently.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As this is a blog about crime fiction novels, specifically Christian crime fiction novels…former Long Beach police officer Janice Cantore has a wonderful suspense novel on the subject of abducted children, THE KEVLAR HEART.  As the story unfolds, PO Brinna Caruso, who was abducted as a child but managed to escape is committed to finding and saving abducted children in California.

If you remember the Etan Patz case, or are burdened by another child abduction case, please leave a comment. Give the names of missing children you wish to honor.  This is something we, as a society, must keep a bright light shined on. We must never forget the children who did not come home.

9 thoughts on “Do You Remember the Etan Patz Case?

  1. Yes, I posted about him on my wall on FB yesterdays and I am giving people benefit of doubt, but with 500 friends, no prayers, one like. Anmnoying. Any way this case has been in my prayers for a while. 33 years. I really have aheart for missing of this world and missing for heaven both.I pray and never can do enough, waht little I can do, I think god is confirming my heart here through you. May they plese Oh God find the answer to such a hooror for you know what happenedned here. In our weakness give wisdom and bring to light the hidden things of darkness for you honor and glory. Bring justive. In Jesus name amen.


  2. Eddie Snipes

    Back in 1979, a child abduction made national headlines. Today it’s a passing news blurb. It’s a different world than when I grew up in the 60s and 70s.


  3. These things are heart breaking. Why questions for God that may have no human answer. In this day and age the numbers are tracking up again and it is connected to the trafficking craze that has popped up. I follow crime shows like Nancy Grace and I know the stats on what happens to kidnapped children taken by strangers. Many or most are never seen again. Thankfully God is aware and powerful to avenge the innocent. Those of us who feel burdened carry the torches and try to keep the ones left at home safe.


    1. Tosca, Trafficking is an evil that has many heads and is increasing. I always take a double look when I see a child kicking up a fuss in public. Most of the time after a moment or two I realize it’s a child in the terrible twos phase. But I do take a moment to check it out.


  4. Don’t worry about the typo. I am a terrible specheller.

    I’m also touched by this case. I’m sure people are praying. I guess for some because it was so long ago, it doesn’t touch them as much. The number of abducted children is staggering. Even if they’ve been taken by a noncustodial parent and are not in much danger, their lives have been disrupted. In some cases the noncustodial parent is unstable and a danger to them.


  5. I remember that case so well. I even remember what the parents looked like. Their anguish, guilt-ridden faces. And for some reason I never forgot that case, always thinking, if I were the parents, wondering what happened to my child. Imagining scenarios you wanted to bury in your mind. There was another case where the boy turned up in either his late teens or early twenties. He’d been abducted by a man and lived with him. They made a TV movie about it, and I remember the boy got killed, I think in a car wreck. It’s strange how some things stick. Maybe because they’re a parent’s worst nightmare.


    1. Polly, I can imagine how guilt ridden the parents felt. They’d allowed him to walk alone to the bus stop. We have to remember that 33 years ago walking two blocks in NYC wasn’t nearly as dangerous as it is today. They had no reference point. Also it seems that the family had two pedophiles near to them. The nanny was dating a pedophile. In that time there were no technological ways to do a search. Parents basically relied on references provided by the nanny. For a pedophile, who better to date than a professional nanny?


Comments are closed.