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