Ramos, 68, who is serving the final months of a 27-year sentence for sexually assaulting a child in Erie County, was once involved with a woman who sometimes walked Etan home from school.
In the late 1980s, Ramos — while doing a separate stint in state prison for the assault of another Pennsylvania child — sobbed, "I’ll tell you everything," when questioned by a federal prosecutor in New York about Patz’s disappearance, according to a 2009 New York Magazine story about the case.
Ramos, however, swore to investigators that he had only lured Etan to his apartment the day he went missing, and then let him leave without harm, according to the story. No charges were ever filed against him.
The Patz family remained convinced of Ramos’ involvement in their boy’s disappearance, and in 2001 they filed a civil lawsuit against him. A few years later, the family was awarded $2 million, money they would never see.
"There was no rejoicing," Brian O’Dwyer, the attorney who represented the Patz family in the civil lawsuit, told the Daily News on Thursday. "There was a sense that something had been done, but it was incomplete."
O’Dwyer declined to comment when asked if he still believed that Ramos was involved with Etan’s murder.
He said Stanley Patz has continued to send the posters of Etan to Ramos — on the boy’s birthday, and on the anniversary of his disappearance.
Ramos is due to leave the State Correctional Institution at Dallas on Nov. 7.
"As a father and grandfather, I’m frightened as hell that he would be out on the street again," O’Dwyer said.
Ramos isn’t the only person who’s been publicly linked to Etan’s murder.
Othniel Miller, a retired 75-year-old handyman who used to work in Etan’s neighborhood, became the focus of the police investigation in April. Authorities dug up the basement where Miller’s workshop used to be, in a failed bid to find the boy’s remains.
"Mr. Miller is relieved by these developments, as he was not involved in any way with Etan Patz’s disappearance," Miller’s lawyer, Michael C. Farkas, said Thursday.
Cops who leaked information about Miller being a possible suspect "did nothing but irreparably harm an innocent man," Farkas said. "Somehow, I doubt an apology will be forthcoming." n
Contact David Gambacorta at 215-854-5994 or email@example.com or on Twitter @dgambacorta.