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NYPD: No human remains in Etan Patz case

A family photo of then 6-year-old Etan Patz.

A family photo of then 6-year-old Etan Patz. Credit: Handout

No apparent human remains were found in the search of an excavated SoHo basement for clues to the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, an NYPD spokesman said Monday.

After four days of searching, investigators now will analyze dozens of pieces of evidence, including strands of hair that may be human and an old piece of paper, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said.

Evidence taken from the basement of 127 Prince St. -- 16 swabs of DNA, stained concrete and pig bones likely from Chinese takeout -- was tagged for testing at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., the source said. Initial tests at the scene of the stained concrete wall section tested negative for human blood, said the source.

The end of the search left the 33-year-old case once again without any conclusive proof about the fate of Etan, who disappeared on May 25, 1979, as he walked alone for the first time to catch a school bus.

"No obvious human remains were found," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Newsday.

Two trash bins of material will be sent to a landfill in Staten Island, where they will be kept secured in case they need to be re-examined.

Investigators have long considered convicted sex offender Jose Antonio Ramos, 68, now finishing up a 27-year sentence in a Pennsylvania prison in an unrelated case, as the key suspect in Etan's disappearance. But Ramos was never charged.

Etan's parents, Stan and Julie Patz, declined to comment as the FBI and police dug up the basement about a block from where they live. Their attorney, Brian O'Dwyer, declined to comment Monday.

The revived probe began after FBI cadaver dogs became alerted to possible signs of human remains in the basement, which had been used as a workshop by handyman Othniel Miller, 75, an old acquaintance of the Patz family. For days, a media horde besieged Miller, who denied any involvement in Etan's fate and was never charged, at his Bedford-Stuyvesant home.

"Mr. Miller and his family have been undeservedly dragged through the mud during this ordeal, all because of nameless, faceless 'anonymous' sources who couldn't care less about how leaking their unconfirmed and speculative information affects innocent people," said Miller's attorney, Michael Farkas. "The Miller family remains deeply saddened by what happened to young Etan Patz, and by the fact that he still has yet to be located. Mr. Miller, however, bears no responsibility for this tragedy."

Browne said the Prince Street basement, which now has just a dirt floor, will be turned back over to the control of the landlord.

With Gary Dymski

and Igor Kossov

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