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Longtime Etan Patz suspect released, then re-arrested

Uncredited / AP

Jose A. Ramos is shown in this May 28, 2010 file photo provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Authorities say a man long considered the prime suspect in the disappearance of a New York City boy more than three decades ago was released from prison then immediately taken into custody on a Megan's Law violation.

Pennsylvania State Police say 69-year-old convicted pedophile Jose Ramos was released from a state prison early Wednesday then immediately arrested for failing to provide authorities accurate information as required of sex offenders.

Ramos had long been a suspect in the disappearance 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished after leaving his Manhattan home for a bus stop two blocks away.

Earlier this year, a new suspect named Pedro Hernandez was charged with Etan's murder after police said he confessed this spring. His lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, has said Hernandez is mentally ill, and authorities have not cited any additional evidence to implicate him beyond his own admission. 

Police did not immediately specify what information Ramos failed to provide. 

Investigators in Etan's case had long been focused on Ramos, who had been dating the boy's baby sitter and later served the time in Pennsylvania for molesting two other boys. 

Etan's disappearance prompted a massive search that stretched as far as Israel and spawned the national movement to publicize the cases of missing children. The blond, blue-eyed boy's photo was among the first put on milk cartons, and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children's Day. 

His parents never moved or changed their phone number, in case he returned. In 2001, they obtained a court order officially declaring their son dead. They have become outspoken advocates for child protection issues. 

Ramos was declared responsible for Etan's death in a civil court in 2004, but the Manhattan district attorney's office has said there wasn't enough evidence to charge him criminally. Ramos has denied any involvement in Etan's disappearance. 

Prosecutors are expected this month to announce whether they believe there's evidence enough to continue pursuing a case against Hernandez, who worked at a convenience store near Etan's home when the boy disappeared and told police he strangled the boy and stuffed his body in a trash bag. 

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