How the Etan Patz Case Was Relaunched
New agent sought 'peace' for missing child's family
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 23, 2012 8:25 AM CDT
Investigators work the crime scene in connection to the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old boy Etan Patz in New York, Sunday, April 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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(Newser) – The case of Etan Patz was opened in 1979 and almost closed five years ago, but a fairly low-ranking FBI agent brought it back into the limelight—culminating in the recent search of a New York City basement, reveals the New York Times. Agent Thomas McDonald took on the hopeless-looking case following another agent's promotion; seeking "some measure of peace" for Patz's family, McDonald contacted old witnesses and developed a 50-page "Patzifesto" containing his findings.

In the course of McDonald's work, doubts were raised about the previous top suspect, Jose Ramos, who tended to develop close relationships with the children he abused; no such link between Ramos and Patz was uncovered. New suspect Othniel Miller's name popped up as part of McDonald's search. When asked about a basement burial in one interview, he asked agents, "What if the body was moved?" Meanwhile, the basement search is due to resume today, following a sudden halt yesterday, amid rain. At that point, reporters spotted something being loaded into a van, CNN notes. Yesterday, investigators reportedly found what may be a blood stain on a cinder block.