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Etan Patz case: Authorities sift through dirt for remains

April 21, 2012|By Dalina Castellanos
  • Debris is removed from a basement in New York where police are looking for the remains of Etan Patz, who went missing in 1979 at age 6.
Debris is removed from a basement in New York where police are looking for… (Spencer Platt, Getty Images )

Authorities began sifting through dirt in a New York City basement Saturday as part of a ongoing search for the remains of Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy who vanished in 1979.

The basement's concrete floor was removed Saturday morning and the area was broken into quadrants, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in a telephone interview with the Times.

Authorities dug 1 1/2 feet to 2 feet into the dirt floor, Browne said. The first quadrant had been sifted through and the second was underway at 5 p.m. Eastern time. Browne did not comment on what contents, if any, were found in the dirt.

Etan disappeared May 25, 1979, after leaving his home to walk to a school bus stop.

The renewed search kicked into gear Thursday after an FBI dog indicated the scent of human remains in the room, on a stretch of Prince Street in Manhattan’s SoHo district.

The building is on the same block where Etan lived and where his parents still live.

FBI agents have spoken to a New York man who apparently knew the boy, and who once worked in the basement. Othniel Miller, 75, was questioned by the FBI, though they did not describe him as a suspect. 

Etan's disappearance led to President Reagan proclaiming May 25 as National Missing Children Day, a day now observed worldwide.

The search will continue "through the weekend," Browne said.

dalina.castellanos@latimes.com

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