Updated 04/21/2012 06:20 PM
Investigators In SoHo Continue To Search For Clues In Patz Disappearance
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Investigators returned to SoHo Saturday looking for clues in the 1979 disappearance of six-year-old Etan Patz, amid reports that the renewed probe was prompted by information from the ex-wife of a local handyman.
The FBI and NYPD on Thursday began digging up the basement at 127 Prince Street, trying to figure out what happened to boy who vanished 33 years ago on his way to school.
At the time of his disappearance, the basement in question was being used by handyman Othniel Miller, who was thought to be friendly with the boy. Published reports say Miller's ex-wife recently told authorities that Miller had raped his 10-year-old niece a few years after Patz went missing, which prompted police to begin excavating Miller's old workshop looking for clues in the Patz case.
Speaking to reporters gathered outside his Bedford-Stuyvesant home Friday, Miller's attorney said his client has nothing to hide and has been cooperating with investigators since the beginning.
"Mr. Miller denies involvement with what happened to this beautiful young boy and he is going to remain cooperative to the extent that's reasonably possible, given this investigation," said Attorney Michael Farkas.
Patz disappeared while walking to his school bus on May 25, 1979. He lived just a half a block away from where crews are digging.
Investigators on Saturday said they had finished jackhammering through the basement's concrete floor and were digging through the dirt below in search of evidence. Police on the excavation scene say the painstaking digging process involves examining and logging everything they find.
"Luminol is being used at this site – it's a chemical that enables you, under black light, to find traces of blood, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "There's special x-ray equipment that can look behind walls."
Patz was declared legally dead in 2001. While no one has ever been prosecuted for his disappearance, a judge ruled convicted child molester Jose Ramos responsible in a civil suit.
Ramos was a friend of the boy's babysitter and is currently serving a prison sentence in Pennsylvania on unrelated charges.
Officials say they will be digging at the Prince Street address throughout the weekend.