An author who has researched Etan Patz's disappearance and the resulting investigation says she has kept in touch with the family over the years and that they have been cautiously optimistic to any new leads in the case. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
While investigators dig, examine and record the contents of the basement inside 127 Prince Street, the mother and father of Etan Patz wait in their apartment a half block away.
"It's going on right outside their door and they're besieged by the press. They are prisoners in their own home," said "After Etan" Author Lisa Cohen.
A sign on their door reads "no comment." Lisa Cohen has been speaking with Etan's father, Stan Patz. She says he's grateful to the Manhattan District Attorney.
"The idea that there's actually movement there's actually resources being put into it is something that he's wanted for a long time," Cohen said.
A journalist and professor, Cohen has tried to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance in "After Etan." Her book uncovers some of the Patz family's pain and follows investigators as they searched for answers over the years.
"They get some sense of credibility for the information then they follow it to its conclusion," Cohen said. "It happened in 1986. It happened in 2000. They dug up Jose Ramos' basement in the East Village and carted every piece of that away."
Ramos is the convicted child molester a judge ruled civily responsible for Etan's death. Prosecutors never found enough evidence to charge him criminally. It's unclear what, if any, connection exists between Ramos and the space under investigation now. It's also unclear what, if any, connection exists between Ramos and Othneil Miller, the handyman who used that space.
"I don't believe that they're calling Othneil Miller a suspect," Cohn said. "No authority has ever said that. That's the press that's been doing that."
Cohen says Etan's father told her Miller offered to allow the FBI to dig up his newly laid concrete after the disappearance as long as he was reimbursed. She doesn't know why it wasn't done three decades ago.
Cohen says the FBI speaks to the Patz family all the time but doesn't know what information agents may be sharing. She also says the Patz family is not going to allow themselves to react to anything until they know what the FBI has found.