Both the New York Post and the Daily News cited anonymous law enforcement officials today who said the niece of Othniel Miller, a possible suspect in the Etan Patz case, confirmed that he raped her when she was 12.
Miller worked as a handyman in the SoHo neighborhood where 6-year-old Patz disappeared in 1979. FBI officials spent the past five days digging up a basement at 127B Prince Street. Miller reportedly kept a workshop in the basement.
Miller and little Etan were friendly, according to reports. The night before the child disappeared Miller actually “hired” him as a special helper for a token $1 salary.
In the days immediately after Patz went missing, a new concrete floor was poured in the basement and it hadn’t been dug up until now.
Miller’s ex-wife, Phyllis, told the FBI in 2011 that the reason the two divorced was because she learned he had allegedly raped his niece when she was 12, anonymous law enforcement officials told the Daily News.
That rape allegation was part of the FBI’s search warrant to dig up the basement. The search ended yesterday, with no obvious human remains found.
Now, both the Post and Daily News claim, investigators tracked the niece down where she now lives in New Jersey and she corroborated the rape allegation.
The alleged attack happened so long ago it falls outside the statute of limitations.
Miller’s lawyer said his client’s reputation is being dragged through the mud.
“I will not comment on what anonymous sources claim without accountability,” Michael Farkas told the Daily News. “I have no idea if this is accurate or not and it is despicable that information continues to leak in what is supposed to be a professional investigation.”
Miller has not been charged with a crime.
Miller’s stepson Jason Webley denied the allegation, telling the Daily News on Sunday that the ex-wife made up the accusation.
“You can’t swear for anyone, but I don’t think he’s in any way, form, or fashion involved in this,” Webley said.
Miller, 75, is reportedly cooperating with police in the investigation.