NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Investigators concluded the dig at a building in SoHo Monday where they had been searching for clues in the disappearance of Etan Patz, saying that the street and local businesses will be reopened.
On Monday, FBI and police completed a four-day search of a basement that began with a search warrant after a cadaver-sniffing dog detected the scent of possible human remains.
The basement, once the workspace of a handyman, is down the street from where Etan’s parents still live and along the route he would have walked to reach his school bus stop when he vanished on May 25, 1979, wearing a backpack with elephants printed on it.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports
Investigators wrapped up Monday after notifying parents Stan and Julie Patz on Sunday that no obvious human remains had been found.
“In terms of obvious human remains, none found, and some continued laboratory testing going on forward at the FBI lab at Quantico,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told reporters, including CBS 2’s John Slattery.
Investigators hauled away a container filled with debris from the dig Monday morning. The container was taken to a landfill on Staten Island, where it will be preserved. Now the work of investigators will turn to the labs, where hair, dirt and fiber samples will be analyzed, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
All of the findings are being examined by a forensic anthropologist with hope that new light will be shed on the decades-old disappearance of Patz. However, the testing seems more to rule out the remains of Patz, CBS 2’s Slattery reported.
“This was an effort that was deemed worthwhile and undertaken by some of the best people in the world who do this — the FBI and NYPD crime scene people,” Browne said.
This weekend, authorities found a suspicious stain on a concrete wall inside the basement. Initial tests determined that the stain was not a human blood stain, Papa reported. There will be further testing on it to try to determine the nature of the stain.
The six-year-old boy would have passed by the basement on his way to a bus stop.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports
Patz was officially declared dead in 2001 in a civil lawsuit filed against Jose Ramos. He is a convicted child molester currently behind bars. His girlfriend used to babysit Patz, but Ramos has denied killing the boy.
But the focus shifted recently to Othniel Miller, who is now 75 and lives in Brooklyn. In 1979, Miller was a handyman who used the basement at 127B Prince St. as a workspace.
Miller, who was described by longtime residents as a neighborhood staple, was interviewed soon after the boy vanished. Investigators noticed at the time that the basement had a fresh concrete floor; his space was searched then but never dug up.
At the time, Miller gave investigators an alibi, though authorities are giving his account of the day a fresh look in part after recently interviewing his former wife, one of the officials said. Investigators spoke to Miller last week and decided to take a closer look at the basement, the official said.
Miller hasn’t been named a suspect, and his lawyer Michael C. Farkas, said Monday that his client “has absolutely no responsibility for the terrible tragedy.” Farkas also decried efforts to “sully” his client’s reputation.
“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,” he said.
At the site Monday, metal police barriers with white flowers woven through them were being taken down and the posh neighborhood full of galleries and boutiques was returning to normal. The basement will likely be re-filled with concrete, the bill handed over to officials for reimbursement.
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