“48 HOURS” INVESTIGATES THE DISAPPEARANCE OF 6-YEAR-OLD ETAN PATZ AND THE CASE THAT HAUNTS THE DETECTIVES WHO SPENT MORE THAN THREE DECADES TRYING TO FIND HIM
“48 Hours” Investigates in “The Lost Boy”
Saturday, April 14
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Etan Patz walked out of his New York City home headed for a school bus stop just two blocks away. The 6-year-old never made it to school that day in 1979 – and he’s never been found.
Richard Schlesinger and 48 HOURS investigate the disappearance of Etan Patz and the case against Pedro Hernandez, the man charged in 2012 with killing him, in “The Lost Boy,” to be broadcast Saturday, April 14 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
It’s a story that shocked New York City in 1979 and to this day haunts law enforcement investigators who have spent decades trying to find him. The disappearance of the young boy is more than a missing person’s case. Indeed, it changed the way parents watched over their kids.
“I think this was one of the most significant unsolved cases in the history of New York City,” says Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
“Every missing child case is very important, but this was one of the oldest ones we had,” says NYPD Lieutenant Chris Zimmerman.
Patz disappeared at a time long before social media and every storefront had a video camera. He had asked his parents to let him do the short walk to the bus stop alone for the first time. He had a dollar to buy a soda at a corner deli. His parents were unaware he was missing until he didn’t return home after school. Since then, Patz’s smiling image used on missing person’s fliers is seared into the minds of people around the country.
“That photo will always haunt me. And every single day that I sent my son out to school, I thought of Etan Patz,” says attorney Brian O’Dwyer. “And I was one of eight million New Yorkers like that.”
Police began searching for Patz by going door to door. Over the years, the case would grow cold. But there was one neighborhood man police suspected of being a pedophile, whom they always had their eye on – Jose Ramos. Ramos, according to law enforcement, had said he took a child back to his apartment and molested him. Ramos told them he was 90% sure it was Patz. The case against Ramos, however, lacked corroboration, and never moved forward, says Vance.
Vance vowed to take a fresh look at Etan’s disappearance when he took office in 2010.
“I was on the hunt for the Patz family to find the killer,” Vance says.
Then in 2012, the NYPD got a tip from a relative of Pedro Hernandez, saying Hernandez had talked about hurting a boy around the time Patz disappeared. During questioning by police, Hernandez told them he choked a boy. He later took them to locations near the Patz home. Was Hernandez telling the truth?
“The facts of that confession make no sense,” says Hernandez’s attorney Harvey Fishbein. “He’s unreliable because of his psychiatric condition.”
What happened to Etan Patz? Schlesinger and 48 HOURS take viewers inside the painstaking investigation through the eyes of those who have spent years searching for the boy and trying to bring closure to his heartbroken parents.
48 HOURS: “The Lost Boy” is produced by Ruth Chenetz. Michael McHugh is the producer/editor. Murray Weiss is the development producer. Anthony Venditti is the field producer. Richard Barber and Phil Tangel are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
48 HOURS: “The Lost Boy” is the second edition in a Saturday night double feature. At 9:00 PM, CBS will present an encore of 48 HOURS: “The Secrets of Waco,” featuring Peter Van Sant and 48 HOURS’ report revealing new information behind the historic stand-off between Branch Davidians led by David Koresh and federal law enforcement nearly 25 years ago.
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