Etan Patz Case: Man Claims Involvement, Say Police

Etan Patz, circa 1979
The long-awaited breakthrough

“An individual now in custody has made statements to N.Y.P.D. detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, in a statement, said early Thursday, in reference to the unsolved case of the 6-year-old boy who went missing on his way to school in Lower Manhattan in 1979. It is believed that Patz was murdered.

Kelly said further details would be provided later Thursday, reports The New York Times.

The newspaper, citing an unidentified law enforcement official, named Pedro Hernandez as the man in custody, saying he was apprehended in New Jersey late Wednesday and, after lengthy questioning, brought to the office of the Manhattan District Attorney, which is overseeing the inquiry by the NYPD and the FBI.

Coincidentally, Friday will mark the anniversary of President Reagan”s naming May 25 – the day Etan vanished on his way to a New York bus stop – National Missing Children”s Day. Etan was the first missing child to appear on a milk carton, and a national campaign was launched.

In April, a glimmer of hope in solving the case emerged when authorities re-launched a search, tearing out drywall and shelves from the basement of a commercial building near the bus stop where Etan was believed to have been headed.

“We”re looking for human remains, clothing or other personal effects of Etan Patz,” a police spokesman said at the time. “It”s a very painstaking process.”

But the search yielded “no obvious human remains,” police said afterwards.

In 1979, the basement had housed a workshop and was along the route Etan used to go to the bus the day he disappeared – which was also first day his parents, Stan and Julie Patz, who still live in the same SoHo neighborhood apartment, allowed their son to go to school on his own.