abnormalities in the vanilla world · crime and punishment

The Technological Milk Carton


Does anyone remember the first little child to ever appear on a milk carton as missing?  Personally I don’t….I’m too young (stop rolling your eyes – this is serious).  It was 33 years ago this year and it happened in New York city.  When 6-year-old  Etan Patz went missing this instigated the city`s use of milk cartons as a means of communication in locating missing children. Patz’s disappearance on his way to catch the school bus in Manhattan’s SoHo district on May 25, 1979 brought an end to some degree, to what was then the widespread custom of letting small children out of the house alone. May 25 was named National Missing Children’s Day. watch the boy on the milk carton

Today we have a technological milk carton; the Amber Alert.  One wonders if either is more successful than the other – but that’s another blog completely. Either way the Etan Patz case was famous mainly because his disappearance, among hundreds of children across the U.S. every year, was the first to be advertised on a milk carton. watch amber alert – 6 pm

The AMBER Alert System began in 1996 when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters teamed with local police to develop an early warning system to help find abducted children. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnaped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, TX, and then brutally murdered.  Her parents believed strongly that if there was increased communication between police forces in different regions there would have been a chance Amber would be alive today.  Hence the beginning of the AMBER alert.  watch missing amber: the amber haberman documentary

Recently, Patz’s alleged killer, Pedro Hernandez, admitted his guilt in murdering the 6-year-old. Hernandez had confessed to strangling Patz after luring him “with the promise of a soda” into the basement of a grocery store. He then “killed Patz and disposed of the body by placing him in a plastic bag and placing it in the trash.”  watch father recalls day etan patz disappeared

However Hernandez`s lawyer states that his client “has diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disease. He’s under medication and in fact was admitted to hospital because of the medication.” watch etan patz suspect Ì was unstableTherein lies the rub in this case. It is possible that Hernandez truly has one of two, or even two significant, incurable mental illnesses and it is a proven fact that a mentally ill person can commit a heinous crime while being unable to control or even be fully aware of her or his actions. watch most evil – delusional thinking 

If only reality wasn`t so complex.  If only Hernandez had never met Etan Patz.  If only there was no need for milk cartons and AMBER alerts. New York police commissioner Ray Kelly stated `the boy’s remains will never be recovered.`

Neither will the innocence of childhood post- 1979. watch Etan Patz age 6, missing 5-25-79

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