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The search for clues in a SoHo basement in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz was suspended indefinitely last night — and, so far, it’s turned up precisely zilch.
FBI agents and NYPD investigators spent the last four days tearing up the cement floor of a basement just blocks from where Patz was last seen more than 30 years ago. At the time of Patz’s disappearance, the basement was a workshop for neighborhood handyman Othneil Miller, 75, who law enforcement sources tell the Voice is the “target” of the investigation.
Sources say no human remains were found in the basement, located at 127 Prince Street, and a promising stain found on a wall turned out to not be human blood.
The search isn’t completely over — a dumpster full of broken chunks of cement taken from the basement will be brought to an FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for further analysis.
Patz — who was the first missing child to appear on the side of a milk carton — was last seen on May 25, 1979, as he was walking just two blocks to a bus stop on his way to school. It was the first time he’d made the trip alone. He was never seen again — and was declared dead in 2001.
When Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance took office two years ago,he re-opened the case and developed new leads that prompted investigators to take a look another look at Miller, who was questioned about the disappearance in 1979 — which is when investigators noticed a freshly poured concrete floor in his basement workshop. Authorities declined to tear up the floor back then, reportedly because police would have been required to pay for replacing it.
After speaking with Miller recently, law enforcement officials took “scent pads”– which allows investigators to “collect scent evidence from hard to access places” without destroying any other evidence, like fingerprints — to the basement of the building on Prince Street.
The scent pads from the basement were then taken to a cadaver dog, which got a “hit” indicating that human remains are — or were — somewhere in the basement.
Miller has not been arrested, or charged with any crimes. His attorney,Michael Farkas says his client has been falsely accused, telling the New York Post that “Mr. Miller decries these efforts to sully his good reputation and destroy his family. He has absolutely no responsibility for the terrible tragedy that befell young Etan Patz, and he grieves for Etan’s fate, as all New Yorkers have for decades.”