He was the first boy to ever appear on a milk carton. Now New York City Police are combing through trash records, hoping it can help solve the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz.
Pedro Hernandez last week confessed to killing Patz, saying he choked the six-year-old boy to death, then threw his body away inside a trash bag. Those trans logs could help police determine whether to search local landfills in order to try to find the boy's remains.
Retired Nassau County police officer Lou Palumbo discusses the viability of searching New York City landfills for 33-year-old remains of Patz, and says it may not make sense to start combing through landfills.
"The real problem we have here is we're talking about hundreds of millions of tons of garbage over a 33-year period," Palumbo says. "The hope or expectation that the Sanitation Department is going to be able to give them some type of a focal point that they can then go in and randomly pick through the garbage because technology is not going to support them on this."
He adds, "this could turn to a case that happened at the beach, we went looking for one prostitute and found 10. Be careful what you wish for here because we're going in looking for Etan Patz and I have a really strange suspicion that other bodies have been discarded in this landfill, the same way they were at the beach. We're going to find bodies we're not looking for here."
"It could be problematic in that capacity but I think overall this makes looking for a needle in a hay stack like an easy undertaking," Palumbo says.