Sunday, May 27, 2012

After Etan - A New Look Lisa Cohen's Book

A few years ago, I wrote a review about Lisa R. Cohen's masterful book,  After Etan, the story of Etan Patz's disappearance and the heroic efforts to bring justice to this sad case.  I wrote that, "One of the most remarkable portrayals of After Etan is that of the heroically devoted federal prosecutor, Stuart GraBois. By the time Grabois was involved in the Patz case, Cohen points out that, "Etan had been missing almost as long as he'd been living safely at home." What is extraordinary about Stuart Grabois is that he never stopped seeking answers. Cohen shows Grabois searching for justice across states, across countries, and across decades."

With the confession and arrest of Pedro Hernandez, I re-read After Etan. Did Mr. Grabois relentlessly pursue Jose A. Ramos (who was found responsible for the murder in a civil court)? Yes.  And although his primary goal was to gain a confession for Etan's murder, he was able to bring justice and peace to other families because he was willing to prosecute child molestation cases that other DA's ignored.  

If there is any gift to this long wait, it could be that - the hunt for Etan's abductor was so intense that other horrifying criminals were caught in the pursuit, that other children were made safe, that other families were able to get counseling and help.

Here is a video of an interview with Stuart GraBois, and a clip of Jose Ramos angrily talking about "how it starts" when he thinks the interviewer is about to touch him.

Do I think Jose Ramos killed Etan?  Well, he does steadfastly deny it in the book, but he confessed to attempting to molest someone he was 90% sure was Etan that day.  Perhaps he harmed Etan and then Pedro Hernandez discovered the child and killed him, or perhaps Pedro Hernadez knew who killed Etan and didn't help him and is now acting out of guilt and hallucinations.  Perhaps Pedro Hernadez killed him and Jose molested another boy, who has yet to be vindicated.

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