Dig for missing boy in NYC basement on hold

AP News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2012 5:48 PM
Dig for missing boy in NYC basement on hold

Investigators digging up the basement of a building in New York City's SoHo neighborhood in connection to the 1979 disappearance of a 6-year-old boy have stopped for the day.

FBI spokesman Jim Margolin says the halt Sunday was for several reasons, including the weather. Heavy rains are expected in the region Sunday night into Monday. The work in the basement is expected to resume Monday morning.

FBI officials are looking for any traces of Etan Patz (pronounced AY'-tahn payts). He was on his way to his school bus stop when he disappeared. He would have passed the stairwell leading to the basement during his walk.

Authorities say they began the search after an FBI dog indicated the scent of human remains in the room.

The basement now being searched was used at the time as a workspace for a handyman named Othniel Miller. He was interviewed after the boy went missing.

The 75-year-old Miller hasn't been named a suspect, and his lawyer, Michael C. Farkas, says he "has absolutely no responsibility for the terrible tragedy that befell young Etan Patz" and "decries these efforts to sully his good reputation and destroy his family."

Farkas told The Associated Press on Sunday that people with access to unconfirmed information about the Patz probe have leaked it to the news media "for their own inappropriate purposes."

Such "random bits of uncorroborated information and supposition," as Farkas called them, "serve no purpose in the public domain other than to skew public opinion and malign unfortunate individuals who cannot effectively respond."

This, he said, was "how innocent people become irreversibly branded as criminals."