Jury Convicts Killer Of First Missing Child On Milk Carton Four Decades Later

Published February 24, 2017
Updated August 16, 2018

Etan Patz left his Manhattan home one day in 1979 and never returned. Four decades later, his family has finally found justice.

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National Child Safety Council

In an era of plastic jugs, almond milk, and an ever-growing population of vegan hipsters, the ubiquity of cardboard milk cartons feels like a thing of the distant past.

And the idea that the easiest way to communicate with people was with messages on those milk cartons? Well, that just seems ancient.

It wasn’t too long ago, though, that thousands of children’s smiling faces appeared just there — sitting on breakfast tables across the country under the bold black word “MISSING.” The milk carton kids campaign was actually so recent that many of the children’s fates remain unknown to this day — and many of their kidnappers remain uncaught.

In fact, one of the very first cases to ever be shared in the dairy aisle went unsolved for nearly four decades. Until this February, that is, when a jury finally put the case that started an iconic movement to rest.

Etan Patz was six years old when he left his SoHo, Manhattan home on Friday May 25, 1979.

That day, the shaggy-haired, blue-eyed boy wore a black Eastern Airlines cap and striped sneakers. He packed an elephant-covered tote bag with his favorite toy cars, took a dollar to buy a soda, and stepped outside onto familiar streets.

It was the first time that he had successfully convinced his mother, Julie Patz, to let him walk the two blocks to the bus stop by himself.

It was the last time Julie would ever see her son.

When Julie learned of Etan’s absence at school that day, her legs gave out from under her.

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer.
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