Etan Patz was declared dead yesterday, 22 years after the 6-year-old boy disappeared while walking two blocks to a bus stop. Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Eve Preminger ruled on the petition of
Stanley K. Patz, the boy's father, to have his missing son officially declared dead. Patz's lawyer, Brian O'Dwyer, and Roger Olsen, the court-appointed guardian, agreed a hearing on the petition wasn't needed. Olsen said investigators had carried out the most exhaustive search for
Etan, who disappeared on May 25, 1979, since the 1932 kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. He also noted that a convicted child molester, Jose Antonio Ramos, currently serving a 20-year sentence in Pennsylvania, had allegedly once claimed responsibility for Etan's death.
O'Dwyer said it was "a horrible and painful day" for the boy's parents, neither of whom attended the proceeding.
O'Dwyer said he plans to file a civil suit against Ramos for the wrongful death of the child within a few weeks, by which time he expects to have received Preminger's written decision on the declaration.