UPDATE: Police have charged Pedro Hernandez with the murder of Etan Patz.
Police started digging up a basement in SoHo last week following a tip in the Etan Patz case, one of the first missing children stories to receive national attention. But after digging for the better part of three days, authorities have pulled together a few clues, but nothing close to remains of the little boy — meaning that 33 years, later Mr. and Mrs. Patz are still without closure. A cruelty perhaps worse than a missing child.
After three decades of waiting, Etan’s mother and father perhaps aren’t all that put off by the announcement that possible new clues — human hair and a cinder block — are being sent to Virginia for forensic tests. Nevertheless, after a tension-filled weekend of walking through the city seeing newspaper headlines accompanied by pictures of Etan’s face, I was worried what all authorities might find down there once the rubble had been cleared. The reality of hoping that investigators discover the body of your missing child is seething with all kinds of parental complexities — complete with the end to a hope that certainly perseveres.
Etan’s parents appear to be no stranger to this type of audacious hope as ABC reports that the family has not moved from their Prince street apartment in case Etan one day found his way back. They have also maintained their same phone number all of these years, as Etan’s father said a couple of years ago:
“We didn’t know what had happened to him, so, of course, the thought in the backs of our minds was always that we should be here for him.”
The end to the SoHo basement investigation is surely disappointing given what can only be imagined as the drawn own agony of his parents. But perhaps answers to Etan’s disappearance are now only a few more forensic clues away.