Developing Story: New Jersey resident of Pedro Hernandez has been arrested in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz, who was 6 years old at the time, and had been taking his first unattended trip to a bus stop on the way to school. Hernandez, who would have been 19 at the time of Patz’s disappearance, told police that he strangled the boy, put him in a bag (some reports say it was a box), and dumped the body in an alley among other bags of trash.
In a press conference held by NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, it was stated that Hernandez may have made comments about the slaying as early as 1981 to others. Early reports stated there was some doubt about the reliability of Hernandez’s story, but the NYPD felt there was still sufficient evidence to arrest him and charge him, probably with a Second Degree murder charge, according to Kelly.
Hernandez, now 51, had not been a suspect in the original investigation. He had worked as an undocumented employee at a bodega, or Hispanic grocery store, in the neighborhood where the Patz family lived. Hernandez terminated his employment at the bodega shortly after the Patz disappearance. Kelly stated that some employees of the bodega had been questioned in the initial investigation, but not Hernandez.
According to information at the news conference, Patz had made it to the bus stop on that fateful day. Hernandez promised to give him a soda (some reports state it was candy), led him down to the bottom of the basement in which the act transpired, and strangled him.
Police state that the confession took over 3 hours, and Hernandez broke down several times. It is rumored that Hernandez may be battling cancer, which some see as a reason why he chose to come forward so many years after the fact.
Only last month the Patz case saw renewed interest when police investigated the basement of neighborhood handyman, Othniel Miller. That investigation came up empty.
Patz was declared legally dead in 2001.
Hernandez was briefly put on suicide watch and later formally charged with 2nd degree murder.
Man arrested in 1979 disappearance of NYC boy Patz
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