Boy In The Basement: Is Etan Patz The Prince of Prince Street?

SoHo, Lower Manhattan, NY- I have never seen a picture of this cherub that did not mirror my smile in response.

Etan’s innocence emanates from his baby-toothed grin like a neon glow stick.

It is all I can see at the moment I gaze upon it in its Willy Wonka technicolor.   Not the Depp version.

Patz was wearing similarly fluorescent sneakers when he left home for the last time.

Etan , named from the Hebrew meaning- strong, firm and impetuous- lived up to his name while he was alive for six short years.

Perhaps his everlasting gobstopper is metaphoric, and he is about to rise out of the fizzy lifting drink chamber at 127B, which is currently disguised as a dank concrete slab and former workshop of Othniel Miller.

I was 10 years old when he went missing.   My Father hales from the Bronx.

My last business meeting on Prince Street was in 2005 with Madam Fabulosity Kimora Lee Simmon’s assistant James.  Great guy.

We got reamed.

“You have to back off the retouch on that one, she looks like a dude.”

He was right.  Scott , the oracle of fashion print- ad- retouch saved the day and I had forgotten we were in “that building”.


Got Milk For Missing?

Etan Patz is the case study the criminology enthusiast and true crime aficionados can regurgitate verbatim.

A word to the wise to those who may not say his name correctly in professional conversation-  It is on the “things you must never do  if you wish to be taken seriously” list.  Colleagues will involuntarily cringe.

He was the first missing child featured on the milk carton.

Ironically and without public service calcium he disappeared just after his own breakfast on his way to meet his  school bus at  the corner of Prince and Broadway.

The unofficial suspect for the last 33 years has been Jose Ramos.  Ramos is currently incarcerated for child rape in Pennsylvania and is due to be paroled in November.

Lisa R Cohen, a former abc reporter and emissary to the Patz’s  wrote about Etan’s case following a 2004 civil victory where he and Etan’s  Mom Julie were awarded about 2 million in a wrongful death action against Ramos.

AFTER ETAN may need a new epilogue.

What was not known publicly before the FBI began jack hammering the first quadrant of the Prince St building basement which housed his old workshop on Friday, was Jamaican national Othniel Miller was also on the short list of possible suspects in 1979.

Investigators renewed their acquaintance with Mr. Miller twice last week before securing a warrant which has been sealed.

The basement space was also home to a makeshift playgroup made possible by donated space from an adjacent gallery, and renovated by resourceful parent tenants.  Shira Patz, Etan’s older sister, was a member.

Photo by Don Gangemi courtesy of NY Post

Miller was known throughout the neighborhood as a skilled carpenter and handyman.  Ramos was considered a vagrant who mostly lived in a drainage ditch and managed to skirt multiple molestation allegations.

Miller paid Master Patz a dollar the day before he disappeared as he skipped down the block to tell his parents  Stan and Julie.

“I want to spend this at the bodega tomorrow!”

Can’t you just hear that jubilant voice exceeding his height in volume in your head?

Etan Patz never made it to school on May 25, 1979.

May25th is now National Missing Children’s Day courtesy of Former President Ronald Reagan.

Which one would know if you lost the sibling battle to read the cereal box  quiz and were therefore forced to hide your “slight” behind the milk; like it was AS interesting.

Reading the nutritional value of same aloud in retaliation over the voice of your sister notwithstanding, we both shut up.

In retrospect the yogurt moustache branding thing would have been preferable.

Mom enters upon the conversation battle void anomaly to remind us how lucky we were that Grammy and Poppa moved Daddy out of the city or we would never have been born.

She would never have agreed to  live there no matter how much she loved Daddy.  It was not safe for children.

“This happens in the city in big buildings because you can’t possibly know everyone that lives there.”

“Don’t ever take anything from or talk to a stranger and finish your breakfast or you will be late for the bus,” she scolded.

“What if he has a golden ticket?”,  lamebrain in pigtails asked.

“Especially NEVER”, Mom replied.

On last Thursday afternoon, Othniel Miller was returned to his home by investigators  walking with a cane he has been using since a multitude of strokes since 2008.

Othniel Miller

Customers found him easygoing and polite. He knew the Patz family, worked on the oak doors in their lobby, and did carpentry for at least one other family in their building. (more…)