By ELIZABETH ELIZALDE
Etan Patz’s mother testified on Tuesday in an attempt to discredit a statement a convicted child molester, once a suspect in her son’s disappearance, allegedly told a jailhouse informant that he visited the family loft in SoHo.
Julie Patz, 72, returned as a rebuttal witness to the stand in Manhattan Supreme court, this time calm and collected in contrast to her testimony in February when she gave emotional testimony on how much her son Etan loved to be photographed and the tragic day she let him walk to the school bus stop by himself.
Her son vanished on May 25, 1979, and to this day his body has never been found.
The defendant Pedro Hernandez, 54, a former bodega clerk, is on trial for the boy’s murder. He confessed to investigators in a 2012 videotape confession that he enticed the boy with a soda to lure him into a bodega basement, choked him to death and stuffed the body in a cardboard box, dropping it off at a street curb.
Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon cross-examined Patz and asked her if she recalled whether convicted pedophile Jose Ramos was ever alone with Etan in her SoHo loft.
“Not in my home, never,” Patz said.
The statement undercuts the defense’s attempt to draw the jury’s suspicion on Jose Ramos, 71, who is serving more than 20 years in prison. Two former jailhouse informants Jeffrey Rothschild and Jack Colbert, have testified for the defense that he told them that he knew Etan.
Colbert, an ex-convict who shared a cell twice with Ramos testified on Monday, telling jurors of the several theories Ramos had about Etan, including that either his parents or a cop killed him and that he would show up alive one day.
Ramos never admitted to killing to boy.
His direct link to Etan was through his former girlfriend Susan Harrington who worked for the Patz family. Patz remembered her as a responsible baby sister who walked Etan to school and back home during the bus strike of 1979.
“Did Susan Harrington babysit Etan by herself?” Illuzzi-Orbon asked Patz.
“No,” she responded and denied that she knew Ramos but had heard of his name then.
The strike ended about a week before Etan disappeared, according to Patz, but she had no recollection of Harrington’s dating history.
Patz also denied that the family had relatives in Upper Manhattan, which Ramos claimed in a 1988 interrogation with former prosecutor Stuart GraBois that he picked up a boy who resembled Etan from Washington Square Park and brought him back to his apartment to have sex. After the boy refused Ramos’s sexual desires, he put him on a subway Washington Heights bound, he told witnesses.
Last week, Illuzzi-Orbon fenced with GraBois for not charging Ramos with the kidnap and murder of the boy. Out of desperation, Patz and her husband sought the help of GraBois to help find their son, but Patz said that she was leery of the prosecutor’s help.
“He was not my first choice of assistance,” Patz said of GraBois. “He was my last resort.”
Prosecutors argue that Colbert’s statements couldn’t be trusted because he worked with law enforcement.
with law enforcement for favorable treatment.
“He answered accurately,” defense attorney Alice Fontier said.
At one point in court, Illuzzi-Orbon stood up and howled at the defense team for portraying Hernandez as mentally deficient in an attempt to plant doubt in the jurors’ minds. “He’s not a mentally challenged man,” she shouted in open court. “He’s a slipster!”