The Faces Of Thousands Of Missing Children Were Once Plastered On Milk Cartons Across The Country, But What Happened To Many Still Remains A Mystery

pressmaster - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

Not too long ago, the faces of thousands of children were once plastered on milk cartons across the United States.

These kids all had one thing in common—they disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Even though the milk carton campaign was widespread, it is still unclear what happened to many of these children.

One of the first children to have their faces displayed on a milk carton was six-year-old Etan Patz from New York. He went missing on May 25, 1979, and his case remained unsolved for nearly 40 years.

The day that Etan disappeared, he was walking two blocks from his home in SoHo to the bus stop by himself for the first time. He was wearing a black cap, striped sneakers, and a tote bag printed with elephant motifs.

When his absence from school was noted, the New York Police Department sent 100 officers with bloodhounds and helicopters to locate the missing boy. They went through each neighborhood in the area and searched all the rooms.

Etan’s disappearance was widely publicized and gained national attention. Photos of the boy were everywhere—on televisions, telephone poles, and, eventually, milk cartons.

This was when the milk carton campaign for missing children really started taking off. The tactic had already been used before with two missing boys from Iowa. Etan’s case, in particular, inspired the formation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1984. At that point, Etan had already been missing for five years.

As more and more pictures of missing children started appearing across the country on items ranging from milk cartons, pizza boxes, and grocery bags, many Americans began to feel its effects. The topic of kidnappers, child molesters, and murderers was commonly discussed at home and at school.

The search for Etan continued as the decades passed. In 2000, investigators narrowed in on Jose Ramos, a convicted offender. They couldn’t find any evidence in his New York basement. Etan was declared legally dead the following year.

pressmaster – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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