PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Jose Ramos, for long a suspect in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz from a New York City street, was freed from prison on Wednesday after serving 20 years for molesting children but immediately was rearrested pending other charges.
Police said Ramos, 69, took a few steps from the prison gate at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas in northeastern Pennsylvania and was re-arrested for violating Megan’s Law provisions requiring sex offenders to register their address.
Lieutenant Richard Krawetz of the Pennsylvania State Police said Pennsylvania authorities had determined that a relative who Ramos said he would live with at a New York City address had not in fact lived there for years.
Patz’s disappearance as he walked to a bus from his Greenwich Village home drew national attention. He was one of the first missing children whose face appeared on a milk carton as part of an appeal for information from the public.
Ramos was found liable for Patz’s death in a civil case in 2004 but no criminal charges were brought.
Another man, Pedro Hernandez, 51, was arrested last May and has confessed to luring Patz from the street and strangling him, and it was unclear whether authorities still believed Ramos had a connection with that case.
Lawyers for Hernandez, who had worked in a deli near the Patz home, said he was mentally ill.
Ramos was being held in police custody and will be arraigned later on Wednesday, Krawetz said. The penalty for violating Megan’s Law is up to 10 years in prison, he said.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and David Storey