PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/AP) – A man long considered the prime suspect in the disappearance of a New York City boy more than three decades ago was released from a Pennsylvania prison Wednesday then immediately arrested on a Megan’s Law violation after providing an outdated address of where he would be residing, state police said.
Jose Ramos was immediately taken into custody following his release from prison where he spent more than 20 years for molesting children.
Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Richard Krawetz said Ramos gave an address of a relative from more than 30 years ago and, while the address existed, the relative hasn’t lived at that location for years, Krawetz said.
“When he walked out of the main gate, he was taken into custody by troopers,” he said.
Ramos had long been suspected in the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished May 25, 1979 after leaving his Manhattan home to go to a bus stop two blocks away. It was the first time his parents had let him go off to school alone.
Ramos been dating the boy’s baby sitter and later served the time in Pennsylvania for molesting two other boys.
Etan’s disappearance caused a frenzy in New York City. It also prompted huge changes in the way missing child cases were handled. Etan was the first missing child to appear on the back of a milk carton and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children’s Day.
His parents never moved or changed their phone number, in case he returned. In 2001, they obtained a court order officially declaring their son dead.
Ramos was declared responsible for Etan’s death in a civil court in 2004, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office has said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him criminally. Ramos has denied any involvement in Etan’s disappearance.
In 2010, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance reopened the case.
Then earlier this year, a new suspect named Pedro Hernandez was charged with Etan’s murder after police said he confessed.
His lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, has said Hernandez is mentally ill and authorities have not cited any additional evidence to implicate him beyond his own admission.
Prosecutors are expected this month to announce whether they believe there’s evidence enough to continue pursuing a case against Hernandez, who worked at a convenience store near Etan’s home when the boy disappeared.
Hernandez said he lured the boy from the bus stop with the promise of a soda before suffocating him in the basement of the store, according to prosecutors.
Authorities said he left the neighborhood shortly after and was never considered a suspect by police a tipster called cops to say they believed he was responsible for the boy’s disappearance.
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