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. http://www.amberalert.gov/guidelines.htm

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. http://goo.gl/YQWwq

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.