There’s been a social media storm these last 24 hours

For those who haven’t heard, there’s a woman who claims she is Jennifer Klein who disappeared in 1974. This story has been floating around the internet for about a month, but yesterday there was a YouTube video published where the woman claimed she had DNA testing done and it proved her identity.

This woman also claims her abductors were members of a Satanic cult and that they kidnapped Kurt Newton and Etan Patz (who both disappeared in the 1970s, across the country from Jennifer) as well. She says she was brainwashed and didn’t start remembering what happened until after she was injured in a car accident.

As for what I think, well, I didn’t write this editorial but it pretty much sums up my own position on the matter.

Hopefully the truth will come out over the next few days or so. Until then, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Etan Patz and the confession

The world is abuzz with the confession from Pedro Hernandez that he kidnapped and killed Etan Patz back in 1979. This after the police have been dogging Jose Antonio Ramos’s tail for the past few decades. He was the prime, and only, suspect, until this week. Hernandez was eighteen when Etan disappeared and said that, for reasons he was unable to explain, he lured Etan with the promise of a soda, strangled him and disposed of the body. He has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and his lawyer says he has visual and auditory hallucinations.

I hate to say it, but…I don’t think anything is going to come of this. I mean, it would be great if something would. I would be thrilled if I was wrong and Pedro Hernandez really did kill Etan and can prove it. Certainly the police seem to believe his story; otherwise they wouldn’t have arrested him.

But they also believed John Mark Karr in 2006, when he confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey. And it turned out, after a huge media firestorm, that Karr (now a woman named Alexis Reich) had had nothing to do with the crime at all and may have confessed solely so he could get free passage from Thailand to the U.S. The police had arrested Karr prematurely, without getting the DNA test results back yet, results which would have proved he was a liar.

Anyway…Etan. I’m sure more will be revealed about this case, but as the Wall Street Journal says, a confession is not enough. There has be collaborating evidence to support Hernandez’s statements. For example, finding the body would be great, but even if his confession was accurate it may not be possible to find Etan after 33 years. Until the police have disclosed they have actual, significant evidence to support Hernandez’s statements, my money’s still on Jose Antonio Ramos.

Ramos, if he knows about all this, is probably laughing his fool head off right about now.

End of Etan Patz dig

They finished digging up the carpenter’s basement looking for Etan Patz. And, as I had figured, they found nothing. I don’t know whether that means the carpenter, Othniel Miller, was ruled out as a suspect or not. It may not matter much to him if he has been: his name’s been dragged through the mud in the national news and he’ll be drawing suspicious looks for quite awhile.

Finally finished MSHP cases

For the simple reason that I was tired of looking at them, the past two updates I’ve concentrated on clearing out all my Missouri State Highway Patrol case backlog. Well, the deed is done, and I discovered an interesting (possible) double murder-without-a-body in the 1986 case of Sherry Wrisinger and her teenage daughter Johnna. Sherry’s husband was charged with their murders in 2009, but the case was dropped less than a year later after a key witness died.

I also updated Etan Patz‘s case with still more photos of him. He was such an adorable kid. If they ever do find him I’d have a hard time deciding which pic to use in the resolved section, for each one is cuter than the last.

I’ve been following the latest events with some interest but my money is still on Jose Antonio Ramos. I found a more recent (2010) picture of Ramos and put it in Etan’s casefile. He looks pretty much the same as he did in his 1986 photo except that his hair is white now. He looks like Santa Claus. He comes up for release in November. *shudders*

*goes off to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off*

Etan Patz case is reactivated

A new Manhattan DA has been elected. He had promised to look into Etan Patz‘s disappearance and possibly prosecute the prime suspect in his case, Jose Antonio Ramos. Well, the day after the thirty-second anniversary in Etan’s disappearance, the new DA has reactivated the case. (They keep saying “reopened” but it was never closed.)

Ramos comes up for parole in two years. I doubt he will get it, but this man MUST be kept behind bars. I hope they can come up with enough evidence to prosecute, and get some justice for Etan.

My review of After Etan

Reporter Lisa Cohen, who’s been covering the Etan Patz disappearance for years now, has put together a very impressive account of the investigation with all its twists and turns. Though the book covers thirty years, the story never drags, and I stayed up and sacrificed precious sleep to get through it, although I knew already how it ended — or didn’t end, as it were. Etan Patz has never been found and the prime suspect in his disappearance, a thoroughly creepy pedophile named Jose Antonio Ramos, has never been charged in his case.

The first half of the book mainly focuses on the pain of Etan’s parents, Stan and Julie, and their struggle to keep their own sanity and provide a normal life for their two remaining children. It’s a very rare and intimate window into how a family copes with having a missing child. Stan and Julie aren’t sure how to answer when a stranger asks them how many children they have. Etan’s younger brother was very afraid to turn six, because Etan was six when he disappeared. Tipsters, well-wishers and cranks phoned the Patz home at all hours and Stan kept a log of every single call, just in case one of them lead to his son’s whereabouts. Julie was remonstrated by strangers when they recognized her on the street: they accused her of negligence for letting Etan walk to the bus stop alone the day he was abducted, and flat-out told her that his disappearance was all her fault.

The second half of the story focuses more on Jose Antonio Ramos and the quest by a dedicated federal prosecutor, Stuart GraBois, to bring Ramos to justice for the crimes he’s committed against children. Largely through his efforts, Ramos was sent to prison for twenty years for an unrelated child molestation charge, but he’s not going to stay in there forever. GraBois continues to lobby for charges in Etan’s case, and I hope this book will spur that effort along. He is the real hero in this story, a tireless advocate not only for Etan but for other children Ramos violated. Using actual dialogue from transcripts and recordings, Cohen makes you feel like you’re actually in the room with Ramos and GraBois as they talk about Etan and Ramos makes a “90% confession.”

This is a must-read for those interested in the Patz case and the phenomenon of missing children in general. Though it’s 400 pages, it felt like a much shorter book to me. The details and the snappy journalistic writing style moved it along. I don’t think it could have been any better written.

[Incidentally, I was very pleased that I didn’t discover any errors on Etan’s Charley casefile as I read the book. Of course there’s info I want to add now, but nothing in the book contradicted what I say on my site, so I’ve gotten it right.]

Reading After Etan now

I am presently on page 137, out of 400. Stuart GraBois has just taken over the case. So far it’s very good. Surprise: Etan’s surname does not rhyme with “cats” or even with “cots,” but instead with “gates.” I will have to retrain my brain to say his name right.

Did I mention here that Lisa Cohen, After Etan‘s author, generously sent me a free copy of the book and thereby saved me $24.99? If I haven’t before, I must say that she is awesome. I love anyone who gives me free books.

Okay, I have the After Etan book

The library ordered two copies. One for me, and one they’ve got on display in their “New Books” section.

It looks good, but it will have to wait. I’m afraid Pride and Prejudice and Zombies must come first, because other people have it on hold so I have to finish it and return it ASAP.

In the meantime, on May 13th the Charley Project had 12,229 visitors, when the average is between 2,000 and 3,000. Most of them were Etan-related. There’ve been 9,659 “entry visits” to Etan’s casefile (meaning his page was the first page on Charley viewed by a particular visitor). That’s 17.96% of all entry visits. Even Charley’s frontpage hasn’t gotten more than that this month.