TWISTED NEW ETAN 'ALIBI'
By DAREH GREGORIAN
October 6, 2003 -- The main suspect in the death of Etan Patz, who vanished from a Manhattan street 24 years ago, has a new, highly improbable story of what he was doing the morning the child disappeared, The Post has learned.
In a deposition in a wrongful-death suit brought by Etan's parents, imprisoned child molester Jos Ramos claims he was in a park with a young boy when two police officers approached him with a picture of Etan "around 11:15 or 11:30" a.m. on May 25, 1979, and asked him if he'd seen the 6-year-old.
Etan - who would have turned 30 this week - wasn't reported missing to police until 2 p.m. that day, and officers would not have circulated his picture until hours later, noted the family's lawyer, Brian O'Dwyer.
"The story is completely made up," O'Dwyer said.
"This new story is enough to really destroy whatever credibility he had, which was zero."
Etan, whose disappearance sparked a worldwide hunt and the establishment of National Missing Children's Day, disappeared on a two-block walk to his school bus. His parents, Stanley and Julia, didn't realize he was missing until they heard from the school that afternoon.
Over the years, Ramos, who's never been charged criminally in the case, is alleged to have changed his story about what happened that morning many times.
A fellow inmate has quoted him as saying, "Etan is dead. There is no body, and there will never be a body," and another has quoted him as saying that if he were caught, no lawyer would represent him because what he did was "too terrible."
In an interview with a prosecutor several years ago, Ramos said he was "90 percent sure" the boy he met that morning was Etan, but in the prison deposition he made April 28, he maintained he'd never said that and never met the child, even though his then-girlfriend baby-sat the boy.
In the latest version of his story, he was with a 10-year-old boy named "Jimmy" whom he'd met that morning in Washington Square Park, near the Patzes' Prince Street apartment, when he was stopped by cops. The officers compared Etan's picture to "Jimmy" and determined it wasn't the same child, Ramos claimed.
He said he later took "Jimmy" to his apartment in Alphabet City. Asked if he sexually assaulted the boy there, Ramos refused to answer, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
He said he last saw "Jimmy" when he put him on a subway to go home. "He indicated that he lived up near Washington . . . George Washington Bridge area," Ramos said.
"When you met Jimmy, did he indicate to you what he was doing in Washington Square Park, a 10-year-old on a school day?" O'Dwyer asked. "No, sir," Ramos answered.
The new story might help the Patzes in their suit. While invoking the Fifth Amendment can't be held against a person in criminal court, it can be used in civil court.
Stan Patz has been convinced of Ramos' guilt for years and sends him missing-person fliers with his son's picture on it every May 25, when the boy disappeared, and every Oct. 9, the child's birthday. Typed on the flier is one question: "What did you do to my little boy?"
Patz and his wife had Etan declared dead in 2000 so they could file suit against Ramos and force him to answer questions in the case under oath. In addition to monetary damages, the suit seeks something novel - a court order keeping him away from children for the rest of his life following his release from prison.
He's currently serving 10 to 20 for molesting two Pennsylvania boys, who, like Etan, were blond.
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