(CBS/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Jose Ramos, the former suspect in the 1979 disappearance case of Etan Patz, is scheduled to be released today from a Pennsylvania prison after spending more than two decades behind bars for molesting children.
"He will be released probably sometime in the morning," said prison spokesman Michael Goyne. "That's all the information there is."
The 69-year-old convicted pedophile will be released from the State Correctional Institution at Dallas in northeastern Pennsylvania after being the longtime suspect when 6-year-old Etan vanished in May 25, 1979 after leaving his Manhattan home alone to go to a bus stop two blocks away. Ramos was dating the boy's baby sitter at the time and later served the time in Pennsylvania for molesting two other boys.
Etan's disappearance prompted a massive international search and publicized the cases of missing children, making him the first vanished face ever pictured on a milk carton. The day of his disappearance, May 25, is now National Missing Children's Day.
In 2001, Etan's parents 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 denied any involvement in Etan's disappearance.
Earlier this year, a man named Pedro Hernandez became the new suspect charged with Etan's murder after police said he confessed this spring. However, authorities have not cited any additional evidence to implicate him beyond his own admission.
Prosecutors are expected this month to announce whether they believe there's evidence enough to continue pursuing a case against Hernandez. Hernandez 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. His lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, said Hernandez is mentally ill.