PHILADELPHIA — A man long considered the prime suspect in the disappearance of a New York City boy more than three decades ago was released from a Pennsylvania prison on Wednesday, then immediately arrested on a Megan’s Law violation after providing an outdated address of where he would be residing, state police said.
Jose Antonio Ramos was immediately taken into custody following his release from a northeastern Pennsylvania prison where he spent more than 20 years for molesting children because he failed to provide accurate information as required of sex offenders, according to state police.
Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Richard Krawetz said Ramos gave an address of a relative from more than 30 years ago and, while the address exists, the relative hasn’t lived there for years, he said.
‘‘When he walked out of the main gate, he was taken into custody by troopers,’’ he said.
Ramos had long been suspected in the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished May 25, 1979, after leaving his Manhattan home to go to a bus stop two blocks away. It was the first time the boy’s parents had let him go off to school alone.
Ramos had been dating the boy’s baby-sitter and later served the time in Pennsylvania for molesting two other boys.
Earlier this year, a new suspect named Pedro Hernandez was charged with Etan’s murder after police said he confessed. 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.
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.