Jose Ramos, the former top suspect in the Etan Patz disappearance is set to go free after more than 20 years in prison for molesting other children.
Ramos was the top suspect in the highly publicized 1979 disappearance of Patz, a six-year-old boy who went missing on the way to his school bus stop in Manhattan, reports Fox News.
The man was even declared responsible to the young boy’s death in a civil court, though he was never criminally prosecuted. That all changed, however, when Pedro Hernandez was charged with murdering the boy after he confessed this spring.
While Hernandez has no further information besides his admission to connect him to the boy’s murder, the blame has shifted to him from Ramos.
Jose Ramos, who is incarcerated in Pennsylvania, has been serving a sentence of 25 years for child molestation convictions. He will be freed on November 7, however, just one week before prosecutors will indicate if there’s enough evidence to go ahead with trying Hernandez with murder.
Yahoo! News notes that, while it is just a consequence, it fills Etan’s parents with anguish at watching the man implicated for the death of their son going free while prosecutors decide if they will proceed with a case against the man who confessed to the crime.
Etan Patz’s disappearance made news nationally and also raised awareness about keeping kids safe. His case turned him into a symbol for the issue, becoming one of the first vanished children to be pictured on a milk carton. May 25, the day he disappeared, is now National Missing Children’s Day.
While Ramos has made a series of ambiguous admissions and denials about Etan Patz over the years, he will still go free. At one point two jailhouse snitches claim he confessed to the crime, but during a sworn questioning in 2003, Ramos said he never encountered Patz, adding, “I have nothing to hide.”
A DA’s office spokeswoman, along with Hernandez’s lawyer, declined to comment on Jose Ramos’ release. A lawyer for Etan Patz’s parents has not responded to phone messages.