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Authorities suspend search in Patz case

FBI and NYPD forensic teams continue to search

FBI and NYPD forensic teams continue to search the basement of a building in SoHo as they look for any traces of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared in 1979. (April 22, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

Rain and gusty wind conditions kept investigators from continuing their search for clues Sunday into the decades old disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz.

Authorities suspended search activities outside 127 Prince St. in SoHo around 2:30 p.m., saying they would resume at 8 a.m. Monday.

As the revived search into the 32-year-old case entered its fourth day, FBI spokesman Peter Donald said agents stopped their efforts for "operational reasons." Searchers were using a tent for collecting evidence and a tarp covered the container where debris was dumped for forensic testing. Overnight, 40 mph wind gusts were predicted.

Donald declined to comment further on reports of discoloration or staining on a portion of wall removed from the building's basement Saturday.

FBI agents, New York Police Department investigators and cadaver-sniffing dogs descended on the site Thursday, after obtaining a warrant to dismantle the property's basement belonging to ex-handyman Othniel Miller.

Miller, 75, worked with convicted sex offender Jose Antonio Ramos, who has long been considered the main suspect in Etan's disappearance. The boy vanished May 25, 1979, and was last seen walking to school.

According to law enforcement sources, Miller's ex-wife, Phyllis Miller, has claimed that her former husband molested a 10-year-old girl. The molestation claim, though uncorroborated, was part of the search warrant request filed by investigators.

Miller's attorney has said the ex-handyman denies any role in the young boy's disappearance.

With Laura Figueroa


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