Man arrested in 1979 Etan Patz case
Etan Patz went missing on May 25, 1979.
May 24th, 2012
07:19 PM ET

Man arrested in 1979 Etan Patz case

[Updated at 7:19 p.m. ET] Pedro Hernandez, a former Manhattan stock clerk who once lived in the same neighborhood as Etan Patz, was arrested Thursday in the boy's death, more than three decades after the 6-year-old went missing, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters.

Kelly told reporters that Hernandez claims he lured Patz from a bus stop to the store where Hernandez worked with the promise of a soft drink, and then led the boy to the store's basement and choked him. Hernandez told investigators that he then put the body in a plastic bag and put it with trash, Kelly said.

Authorities were tipped off to Hernandez by someone who knew him, and whom Hernandez had confided in, a law enforcement source said.

In her book detailing the investigation, author Lisa Cohen describes the plan Etan had the day he went missing. Just prior to his disappearance, according to the book, Patz told his parents that he planned to stop at a store to buy a soda with a dollar that he'd earned by helping a neighborhood carpenter. It's not clear which store he meant.

Patz's disappearance helped spawn a national movement to raise awareness of missing children, which involved a then-novel approach of splashing an image of the child's face across thousands of milk cartons.

[Updated at 6:41 p.m. ET] New York's police commissioner is scheduled to address reporters at 7 p.m. ET about the case of Etan Patz, whose 1979 disappearance raised national awareness of missing children, according to a police statement.

Pedro Hernandez, a former Manhattan store owner, is expected to be the focus of the news conference after he claimed he strangled Patz, who was 6 when he disappeared.

[Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET] A former Manhattan bodega owner named Pedro Hernandez claims he strangled 6-year-old Etan Patz, whose 1979 disappearance raised national awareness of missing children, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

Police were tipped off to Hernandez by someone who knew him, and whom Hernandez had confided in, the source said.

Earlier Thursday, police in New York said they had a man in custody who implicated himself in Patz's disappearance. A law enforcement source said that the man's claims were being treated with "a healthy dose of skepticism."

[Initial post] Investigators in New York have a man in custody who has implicated himself in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, Commissioner Ray Kelly of the New York Police Department said Thursday.

Authorities plan to divulge more details Thursday, Kelly said in a statement.

Patz's disappearance received national attention and, along with other high-profile cases, helped trigger a national movement that focuses on missing children.

Etan went missing on May 25, 1979, a block from his home in the New York neighborhood of SoHo. It was the first time he had walked to his school bus stop by himself.

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    FOX has already released a probably correct suspect's name from a police source.
    I hope that this is actually the man who committed this horrible crime: Etan Patz's parents deserve some closure after this long ordeal.
    It is hard for me to imagine how a person could commit such a crime.

    May 24, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • ♚Mmmmmâ™›

      a human person can offend infinitely
      and the extent to which it can descent into depravity is just as vast

      May 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dippity Do

      I agree with you, Joey. This is long overdue.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    @JIF
    Your absolutley right, about the parents needing closure. If this man is trying to come clean after walking 33 years with this on his conscience, there has got to be some really thuthfull hard hitting confessions of the physical disposal of the body, following what he claimed he did. Law enforcement gutted many places to no avail already.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    I get this real creepy feeling, this is why "he is in fact", the former Manhatten store owner. It's really hard for me to get this out. I hope I'm wrong, but I'd guess that monster may have encased his little body in the walls somewhere in that store CNN mentions. So convenient.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ♚Mmmmmâ™›

      really jeff your tales of the crypt just got jipped...i believe they have already screened the walls...

      May 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scottish Mama

    My thoughts are with the parents. May they find him and may they at least have the "peace" of mind that they found him.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. raven

    I hope it really is this guy. Member the weirdo who claimed (falsely) to have killed JonBenet Ramsey?

    May 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    @raven, I was thinking the same thing! Maybe he's just a sc.rewed up individual, seeking attention! We've seen it before, especially w/the Ramsey case, where the dude had to be extradited! Is Hernandez the "person of interest" from the 1st investigation, that authorities wanted to "look at" again? If not, what happened to that guy? This sounds far from a "done deal", to me!!

    May 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    raven jr? My long lost egg!!

    May 25, 2012 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Caroline

    Hopefully this guy is for real and not just seeking attention. Those poor parents might never get closure without remains to bury....mum of a SIDS angel xx

    May 25, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
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    June 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |