United States: National Missing Children's Day
Etan Kalil Patz (October 9, 1972 – unknown) was a six-year-old child who disappeared in lower Manhattan on May 25, 1979. At the time, news coverage of Patz's disappearance was made into a media circus in the New York area. He is arguably the most famous missing child of New York City. His disappearance helped spark the missing children's movement, including new legislation, new awareness, and various methods for tracking down missing children, such as the milk carton campaigns of the mid eighties.
On the morning of Friday, May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan put on his prized blue captain's hat and left his SoHo apartment by himself—for the very first time—to walk the two blocks to catch the school bus. He did not reach the bus stop.
When he did not return home from school at 3:30 that afternoon, his mother reported him missing. An intense search, using nearly 100 police officers and a team of bloodhounds, began that evening and would continue for weeks. Various circumstances surrounding this case, such as it being Etan's first time outside alone, made it into a greatly media-driven incident.
The day of Etan Patz's disappearance, May 25, is now designated National Missing Children's Day.
In the 1983 movie Without a Trace, starring Kate Nelligan and Judd Hirsch, a six year old boy disappears while walking to school in Manhattan. The Stanley Jaffe film was loosely based on the Patz case. While in production, this movie was titled Still Missing, based on the Beth Gutcheon novel of the same name. It was retitled when someone realized that audiences might mistake this film for a sequel to the unrelated movie Missing.