After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive

After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive

by Lisa R. Cohen


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After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive by Lisa R. Cohen


"A real-life thriller, which kept me up long past midnight...A heartbreaking story, scrupulously researched, well-constructed and well-written." - The Daily Beast

On the morning of May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz left his apartment to go to his school bus stop. It was the first time he walked the two short blocks on his own. But he never made it to school that day. He vanished somewhere between his home and the bus stop, and was never seen again.

The search for Etan quickly consumed the downtown Manhattan neighborhood where his family lived and became a national story - one that would change out cultural landscape forever. More than thirty years later, May 25 is recognized as National Missing Children's Day in Etan's honor. But despite the overwhelming publicity his case received, the public knows only a fraction of what happened.

This is the story of the relentless search for justice, drawn from hundreds of interviews and twenty years of research - including access to the personal files of the Patz family - to reveal for the first time the entire dramatic tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455528615
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 591,617
Product dimensions: 6.08(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.11(d)

About the Author

LISA R. COHEN is an Emmy Award-winning television newsmagazine producer, documentary filmmaker and journalism professor with over twenty years of network news experience, at both ABC and CBS News. She has been covering the Etan Patz story for over two decades, beginning with the segments on the case she produced for 60 Minutes and PrimeTime Live. She lives in New York with her family. AFTER ETAN is her first book.

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

1 May 25, 1979 1

2 Twenty-four Hours and Counting 10

3 The Occupation 22

4 A Year for the Books 39

5 The Bigger Picture 57

6 The Devil in the Drainpipe 74

7 Up on the Roof 88

8 New Life 97

9 Reversing the Odds 114

10 No Stone Unturned 123

11 "Welcome Home 136

12 Hard Evidence 152

13 Help from All Over 166

14 90 Proof 179

15 "Just Watch Me" 188

16 More Lost Boys 199

17 "I Told You So" 206

18 On the Record 216

19 Done Deal 227

20 Another Door Opens 244

21 Confidential Witness 255

22 Into the Hole 264

23 Take Two 274

24 Double Play 283

25 Debrief 296

26 Nothing to Lose 306

27 Prime Suspect 319

28 Civil Action 332

29 The True Story 349

Coda 365

Postscript: After After Etan 369

Acknowledgments 389

Index 391

What People are Saying About This

Nicholas Pileggi

In the first-ever book on this celebrated case, Lisa Cohen finally gives us the answers behind the most vexing child kidnapping since the Lindbergh Baby. It's a harrowing portrait of a family's grief and an engrossing detective story. A powerful lesson in humanity tested and triumphant.

John Walsh

When our son, Adam, was abducted in 1981, my wife, Revé, and I felt no one could really understand what we were going through. Then we met Julie and Stan Patz and found that we were members of a horrible but exclusive club. Their courage inspired us then and inspires us now. The worst thing for searching parents is the not knowing. Reading 'After Etan,' I relived that terrible time and it increased my admiration for Julie and Stan even more. And it made me even more grateful for dedicated public servants like the incredible prosecutor who ultimately produced some measure of justice for Etan. Every American needs to know Etan's story.

Liz Smith

This powerful work plunged me back in time to a moment that haunts me to this day. Then step by compelling step it walked me thirty years forward, filling in the mysterious gaps of this celebrated case. Finally the book left me, in the present, cheering on its heroes.
For those who will never forget Etan's smiling face, the book answers many questions. For the rest of you, welcome to an ongoing page-turner so full of plot twists, it often reads like a fictional thriller. Except it's all true. This is former "60 Minutes" producer Lisa Cohen's first book, but hopefully not her last.

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After Etan 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
BWLeitner More than 1 year ago
AFTER ETAN, Lisa R. Cohen's mesmerizing account of the tragic and complex circumstances surrounding the Etan Patz abduction, is one of the most engrossing books I've read in a long time. I was only 5 years old when the Etan Patz case became a media event, but being from the NY area, it permeated my world for years to come and likely added a sense of paranoia to every parent from my generation. Periodically, the story of Etan Patz would come to mind, and I failed to believe that after so much time this was still an unsolved case. No longer is that true, thanks to this remarkable and multi-faceted triumph. Cohen weaves together incisive factual reporting on every twist and turn of this enigmatic case with the suspenseful, page-turning instincts of a seasoned mystery writer. Cohen delves into the morass of this well documented case and sifts through some of the truly choice details that made it so nagging and painful. Cranks and crazies, psychic visions, hippie communities, jailhouse snitches and one pesky typewriter ribbon- they all coalesce to make AFTER ETAN a nerve jangling ride. Cohen seamlessly weaves together three concurrent and equally captivating stories throughout the book: the suffering of the Patz family and their ability to rise above their grief; the eerie and lurid life of Jose Ramos, the primary suspect in the case who eluded prosecution for years; and finally, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Stuart GraBois' valiant and dogged pursuit of justice. Cohen takes the reader from one unexpected event to the next, flouting the urge to sensationalize the story when it could have been so easy to succumb. As a result, AFTER ETAN stands as a salient piece of non-fiction and a riveting human interest piece. To call it simply a crime story, suspense novel, courtroom drama or even public service would be reductive. It's all of those and much, much more. It also stands as the definitive resource on the Etan Patz story, humanizing this child in ways that his widely-circulated image cannot. This is an essential and rewarding read for anyone willing and able to delve into such an emotionally wrenching story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended
silkness More than 1 year ago
I remember seeing the posters all over the city when I visited my brother in NYC. On one of my last visits, I saw an old frayed poster and wondered if they'd found him. He was a beautiful lttle boy with the strange name that I never forgot. I was startled to learn there was only one book on this pioneer missing child case but I have to say, no other is needed, as this one covers it all. In a moving and empathetic way, the author depicts the parents heartbreak and despair, along with their struggle to get answers. The police investigation and possible suspects are all detailed. Cohen makes clear that this is one case that law enforcement has never given up on, despite the number of years that passed. And it is heart warming to know they cared, even when it dropped from public view. Although I knew there was no happy endings here - I read the book in one night.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this last year, and in light of new developments, am following new news reports closely. Hope it will not just lead to more heartache for his parents. They've been down this road so many times. The book is a great read!
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TrueCrimeGirl More than 1 year ago
I was a child myself when Etan went missing, and always wondered if this case was ever solved. The author conveys the sheer horror of the Patz family experience, as well as the sorrow and frustration all involved went through. The fact that the Patz family had new laws enacted through this tragedy is a testament to their strength. Also, because of the author's great detail and expressive writing regarding the story of Stuart Grabois, I do again believe in Superheroes.
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JM62 More than 1 year ago
Cohen tells this complicated story with great passion and finesse. I found the account of the disappearance absolutely compelling. Cohen blends circumstance and emotion skillfully without resorting to anything approaching histrionics. I doubt there is a parent alive who wouldn't read the account of Etan's disappearance and be dropped headfirst into the well of what such a moment would feel like, all the while being relieved and grateful that they could close the book and walk away from it. The work reminded me of the excellent writing by Philip Gourevitch in "A Cold Case." Highly recommended.
BookWormAG More than 1 year ago
This cautionary tale is a must for parents, teachers, and community leaders. Lisa Cohen's compelling narrative tells a heartbreaking story of loss, strength, diligence and faith.
avidreaderMF More than 1 year ago
I only knew a little bit about this case - the MISSING POSTER has always stuck in my mind. But this book went from A to Z, leaving nothing out, in story form. There were so many just incredible twists to this case, and I was blown away by the diligence of the federal prosecutor and the endurance of the family. They are true heroes in a world that doesn't have enough. I couldn't put this down - read it in two days.