by Maya Bernstein

Etan Patz is Dead

The gruesome disappearance which spawned the “missing children” movement.

I grew up in New York City in the aftermath of an event that changed the way people parented in New York — the disappearance of Etan Patz, missing since 1979, when he left his mother’s sight for a few minutes walking to his school bus. The details of this story are described relentlessly in Lisa Cohen’s new book After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive (Grand Central Publishing, $25.99). It turns out that the words “Etan Patz” are code. “To many Americans, and to an entire generation of New Yorkers,” Cohen writes, “the two words are synonymous with suddenly, mysteriously, losing a child forever.” I had never known the terrifying details. Now, after having read the book, I’m not sure I’m glad that I do.

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