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Longtime Etan Patz kidnapping suspect leaves prison, is arrested

November 07, 2012|By Matt Pearce
  • Jose A. Ramos, the man who was long the prime suspect in the landmark case of the missing Etan Patz.
Jose A. Ramos, the man who was long the prime suspect in the landmark case… (Pennsylvania Department…)

Even as he was leaving prison in an unrelated case, the man suspected of killing Etan Patz more than 30 years ago was in trouble again.

The Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania police arrested Jose Antonio Ramos on a Megan's Law violation as soon as he was released Wednesday from state prison, where he had served a 20-year-plus term for child molestation.

Many have long suspected him of kidnapping and killing 6-year-old Patz while the boy was walking from his Manhattan home to a bus stop, though Ramos was never charged in connection with the missing child’s death.

Officials told the AP that Ramos had reported a decades-old address for a relative who had since moved away as his own, putting Ramos in violation of Megan’s Law statutes that require sex offenders to report their current addresses, which are then searchable by the public.

State troopers arrested Ramos after he walked out of the prison gates.

Pennsylvania State Police and the Manhattan district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Los Angeles Times.

Stringent registration and buffer-zone restrictions for released sex offenders nationwide have occasionally resulted in arrests for offenders unable to find a home or a geographically legal area to live. 

Ramos is not the only man who has been implicated in Patz’s disappearance, which has proved problematic for prosecutors and investigators for decades. In 2004, a civil court found Ramos responsible for Patz’s disappearance and death, but law enforcement officials have never gathered enough evidence to criminally charge him.

They had recently focused their efforts on another man, Pedro Hernandez, whom police said confessed to the killing. But Hernandez's lawyer says his client is mentally ill, and officials have doubted whether they have enough evidence to convict him.

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