Mom of boy who van­ished in 1979 tes­ti­fies of ‘to­tal hor­ror’

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

When her 6-year-old son was late get­ting home from school, his mother called a class­mate’s mom and got the news that would launch one of the na­tion’s most in­fa­mous miss­ing-child cases.

Etan Patz had never made it to school that day in May 1979.

“To­tal hor­ror and panic” washed over his mother, Julie Patz, who re­called the mo­ment Fri­day as she tes­ti­fied against a man charged with killing her first-grader. “My legs started giv­ing out. I had dif­fi­culty breath­ing.”

It is a day she has ex­plained over and over, first dur­ing the fevered search for Etan and then as an ad­vo­cate who pressed in the 1980s for changes in how Amer­i­can law en­force­ment han­dles miss­ing-chil­dren cases. It’s a day she re­counted dur­ing sus­pect Pe­dro Her­nan­dez’s first trial, which she could not en­dure watch­ing af­ter she tes­ti­fied and which ul­ti­mately ended in a jury dead­lock.

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