The attorney for the Brooklyn handyman who was questioned in the disappearance of Etan Patz says he may make an official complaint about leaks to the media and may even contact the U.S. attorney general about the case. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Othniel Miller's attorney said his client has just one request.
"He wants people to leave him alone," lawyer Michael Farkas said on Monday.
Farkas, who is handling this case through the law firm of Simon Eisenberg & Baum LLP, said Miller is holding up the best he can, considering he was identified as a person of interest in the disappearance of six-year-old Etan Patz.
Farkas said leaks to news agencies are continuing to paint Miller, a 75-year-old grandfather, as a criminal, even after no remains where found in the Prince Street basement where he had a workshop when Etan went missing almost 33 years ago.
The lawyer said suggestions Miller harmed Etan are wrong, and accusations Miller molested his teenaged niece should not be connected to the missing child's case.
"If you were to ask the highest ranks of the NYPD or the FBI whether they want this information to be public, they would say no. They would want it to be confidential," said Farkas. "But at the same time, even up to today, confidential law enforcement sources are leaking information that the hierarchy would slam down as confidential. To me, that means that there are malicious individuals in the police department or the FBI or both that just want to smear Mr. Miller."
Mike Paul, a public relations expert, said even if Miller is innocent the harm has already been done.
"Let's say they find out he did have nothing to do with it, it is a one-line sentence in a courtroom or from law enforcement. But it is already branded in our mind that he's done something wrong," Paul said.
He said that adds to the tragedy that Etan's parents continue to live with, as they are in the spotlight once again.
"To have someone whisper around the corner, 'There's the father, the pressure that they have, are they sleeping these nights?' It is a lot," said Paul.
The FBI and NYPD said they had to be certain Etan's body or other clues were not buried in the basement, so they had to dig.
Investigators said the basement was just one of many leads they are currently following. They want to solve this case, no matter how old it is.