NEW YORK -- New York police on Thursday said they had arrested a New Jersey man in the case of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy whose disappearance 33 years ago launched a nationwide effort to improve methods of finding missing children and ushered in a more cautious style of parenting.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Pedro Hernandez, 51, had confessed to choking Etan after luring him into the corner grocery store where he worked at the time with promises of a soda on May 25, 1979. It was the first time Etan’s parents had let him walk to his school bus stop alone.
Kelly, at a news conference, said police had begun looking into Hernandez last month after receiving information from someone that led them to view Hernandez as a “person of interest.” “In the years following Etan’s disappearance, he had told a family member and others that he had ‘done a bad thing and killed a child in New York,’” Kelly said of Hernandez, who was working as a stock clerk at the store at the time.
He told investigators the killing occurred in the store basement and that Hernandez then placed Etan’s body in a plastic bag and placed it into the trash.