The FBI apparently believes that Etan Patz could still be alive, reaching out to a man just last month to chase down a tip that he might be the city’s most famous missing child.
“Obviously, I was surprised,’’ the man told the Web site ProPublica of the e-mail he got from a federal agent and then subsequent phone call asking him questions about his past.
“I chuckled. I thought it was funny because it was so unlikely that it would be possible that I could be this person. I had no idea who Etan Patz was.”
But the agent was dead-serious, suggesting to the unidentified American — who now works and lives with his wife in Europe — that he might not have been born where he’d been told and that the couple he considered his mom and dad weren’t actually his biological parents.
The agent explained that he was investigating an anonymous tip that the man could be Patz, who disappeared on his way to school in SoHo on the morning of May 25, 1979.
“I thought it was a hoax,’’ the man told the investigative site, noting that he had to go on Wikipedia to even found out about the case.
But the agent persisted, asking him questions such as where he’d lived and gone to school.
The man said it didn’t make any sense because, among other things, he was 30, or 11 years younger that Patz would have been this year.
The man said he asked the agent why he was still pursing leads that the boy was alive, given he’d read that Pedro Hernandez, a former neighborhood bodega worked, had copped to killing Patz in 2012.
The agent didn’t respond, the man said.
FBI sources have already said they are leery about Hernandez’s confession — which he has since recanted — given inconsistencies in it and his mental illness.
The man questioned by the agent contacted ProPublica after the site did an article on the controversy over Hernandez’s arrest.
“I thought you might want to know that the FBI may be working to prove the child is still alive,” the man told the Web site.
The man asked the site to not use his name to protect his privacy.
The FBI and Manhattan DA’s Office, which is prosecuting Hernandez, declined to comment on the story.