Synopses & Reviews
On the morning of May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz left his apartment to go to his school bus stop. It was the first time he walked the two short blocks on his own.
But he never made it to school that day. He vanished somewhere between his home and the bus stop, and was never seen again.
The search for Etan quickly consumed the downtown Manhattan neighborhood where his family lived. Soon afterward, "Missing" posters with Etan's smiling face blanketed the city, followed by media coverage that turned Etan's disappearance into a national story — one that would change our cultural landscape forever.
Thirty years later, May 25 is recognized as National Missing Children's Day, in Etan's honor. But despite the overwhelming publicity his case received, the public knows only a fraction of what happened. That's because the story of Etan Patz is more than a heartbreaking mystery. It is also the story of the men, women, and children who were touched by his life in the months and years after he vanished. It's the story of the agonies and triumphs of the Patz family. It's the story of the extraordinary twists and turns of federal prosecutor Stuart GraBois's relentless pursuit of his prime suspect. From GraBois's creative "outside the box" tactics, to the veteran cop who made his first pedophile bust on a dark Times Square rooftop, to the FBI rookie who cut her teeth chasing the case through the dark recesses of a child molester's mind, this is the story of all the heroic investigators who, to this day, thirty years later, continue to seek justice for Etan.
In After Etan, author Lisa Cohen draws on hundreds of interviews and nearly twenty years of research — including access to the personal files of the Patz family — to reveal for the first time the entire dramatic tale.
"Emmy-winning TV newsmagazine producer Cohen examines one of the most publicized missing child cases in America. On May 25, 1979, Etan Patz left his family's SoHo loft to walk two blocks to catch his school bus, the first time his parents let him make the trip alone. He was never seen again. Early in the investigation, police interviewed Jose Antonio Ramos, whose 'interest in little blond boys' had become known to police, yet they dismissed Ramos as a suspect in the Patz case. But over the years, Ramos repeatedly intimated that he molested and murdered Patz and hid the body. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart GraBois doggedly and shrewdly pursued Ramos, hoping prison informants could coax a confession. Cohen details GraBois's efforts and the pain Stan and Julie Patz endured as years passed and Etan's fate remained a mystery. Perhaps most heart-wrenching is Stan's twice-yearly ritual of mailing Etan's 'missing' poster to Ramos in prison, always with the same message: 'What did you do to my little boy?' As true crime, this tragic tale is a standout, and Cohen, though no prose stylist, does a creditable job telling it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[E]ngrossing....A masterful combination of deep human interest and detailed criminal investigation into a parent's worst nightmare." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"After Etan is a complex, many-tentacled account of just how tantalizingly close Mr. Ramos has come to incriminating himself in the Patz case....[Ms. Cohen] tells a story that is stranger than crime fiction and messier too." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"When our son, Adam, was abducted in 1981, my wife, Revé, and I felt no one could really understand what we were going through. Then we met Julie and Stan Patz and found that we were members of a horrible but exclusive club. Their courage inspired us then and inspires us now. The worst thing for searching parents is the not knowing. Reading After Etan, I relived that terrible time and it increased my admiration for Julie and Stan even more....Every American needs to know Etan's story." John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" and author of Tears of Rage
"Lisa Cohen has done remarkable reporting in this thorough account of a family's terrible loss and the epic pursuit of justice that followed. After Etan has the gripping realism of Law and Order, intensified by the knowledge that this harrowing case study is true." Julie Salamon, author of Facing the Wind and Hospital
"In the first-ever book on this celebrated case, Lisa Cohen finally gives us the answers behind the most vexing child kidnapping since the Lindbergh Baby. It's a harrowing portrait of a family's grief and an engrossing detective story. A powerful lesson in humanity tested and triumphant." Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy
A former 60 Minutes producer unravels the full story of Etan Patz — a six-year-old boy who disappeared in 1979. Cohen reveals his family's desperate search, the heroic efforts to bring the kidnapper to justice, and the investigation into a decades-long mystery.
About the Author
Lisa R. Cohen is an Emmy Award-winning television news magazine producer with over 20 years of network news experience, at both ABC and CBS News. She lives in New York with her family. After Etan is her first book.