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For Years, NYC Officials Have Struggled To Deal With Emotional Toll Of Etan Patz Case

Former NYPD Commish McGuire, Mayor Koch Speak Of Coldest Cold Case
Etan Patz (credit: Personal Photo)

Etan Patz (credit: Personal Photo)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There have been nine police commissioners since Etan Patz disappeared 33 years ago Friday, but the man in charge of the NYPD back then says the case frustrated him, haunted him and left a deep emotional tie.

Former police commissioner Robert McGuire told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer he remembers the Patz case vividly — the emotional involvement; the intense desire he and his highly trained special task force of detectives had to score a miracle.

“I think anybody who’s there at the time had emotional attachment to it. We felt very strongly that we were going to do everything we could to try to recover Etan and hopefully recover him alive,” McGuire said.

That was not to be and the case haunted the former top cop through the decades “because every once in a while you read something in the newspapers that there was another suspect or something had occurred,” McGuire said.

McGuire said that over the years, in his memory, he kept seeing, hauntingly, the pictures of Patz that his detective used to try and find him.

Kramer: “You remember the pictures clearly?”

McGuire: “Very, very clearly as if it happened yesterday.”

Kramer: “It was the eyes?”

McGuire: “I think it was the eyes. He had a very winsome look. He was a very attractive 6-year-old. It was just a wonderful picture.”

McGuire then admitted that if the man in custody is truly the one who committed the crime the old top cop can move on.

“For me, it does bring closure,” McGuire said.

Ed Koch was the mayor when the crime occurred.

“I think most important to the family is to know that he’s dead because I’m sure they always had thoughts that he’s out there a prisoner somewhere, doesn’t know his family. Better that we believe he’s alive, but closure comes when you know where he is,” Koch said.

The former mayor said the case touched his soul and the soul of many city residents.

“There’s nothing more precious than a child, nothing,” Koch said, “and this violence against this child did catch on and caught the attention of almost every New Yorker.”

In 1979 times were tough here. New York was on the edge of bankruptcy. However, former commissioner McGuire told Kramer with pride that even in the tough times the city spared no expense to join with the FBI in putting together a special task force to find Patz and leave no stone unturned.

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