04.23.12

Etan Patz Search Ends Without Recovering Human Remains

After opening a 33-year-old case into America’s best-known missing child, the FBI and NYPD recovered no human remains. Michael Daly reports.

The search in a basement a block from Etan Patz’s home has ended with investigators recovering no human remains, law-enforcement sources say.

Sources further report that a stain found on a concrete-block wall was field-tested for blood by both the New York City Police Department and the FBI with negative results.

Sources added that digging in fact ended with negative results at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, although the FBI said that the search was suspended because of weather.

“It was not suspended because of weather,” a law-enforcement official said. “It is over.”

The family is said to have been notified shortly afterward that investigators failed to find any apparent trace of their son, who was 6 years old when he went missing in 1979.

The key to the basement space at 127 Prince Street, a block from the family’s home, is expected to be returned to the owner later today. Investigators will retain two Dumpsters of dirt, rubble, and other materials collected during the four-day dig.

Investigators began digging after an FBI cadaver dog signaled that human remains either were or had been in the basement. They had hoped that the digging would lead to a major break in the case, which has been reopened.

One FBI official said Saturday that the dog “hit” meant a body had been there, and if nothing were discovered, that would only mean the remains had been moved.

Yesterday, one law-enforcement official suggested that the federal investigators may have placed too much faith in “the magic of dogs.”

Yesterday, one law-enforcement official suggested that the federal investigators may have placed too much faith in “the magic of dogs.”

“They have a bad day, too,” the official said.

Had any remains been discovered, they would have been placed in the custody by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which had personnel at the scene from the start.

“The bottom line is the ME didn’t take anything away,” a source said.