PHOTO: Poster provided by Stanley K. Patz shows a flyer distributed by the New York Police Department of Patz's son Etan who vanished on May 25, 1979, and has never been found.
Etan Patz Case: Pedro Hernandez Arrested
By RICHARD ESPOSITO and RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)
May 24, 2012
Police today arrested a former grocery worker in the 1979 murder of Etan Patz, ending a mystery of what happened to the 6-year-old boy that has haunted New York City for three decades.
Pedro Hernandez, 51, confessed to police that he lured Patz to his death with the promise of a soda. He took police back to the basement of a Manhattan boedga and showed them where he strangled Patz.
He said he stuffed by boy's body into a plastic garbage bag, carried it to another location in the SOHO neighborhood and dumped it in the trash.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Hernandez provided no motive for the killing.
Patz, a handsome blond boy, vanished on the frisk day he was allowed to walk to the school bus alone on May 25, 1979. Friday is the 33rd anniversary of his death.
Kelly said detectives were drawn to Hernandez in recent days because Hernandez had told family members and friends as early as 1981 that he had "done a bad thing and killed a child in New York."
It was one of those family members or friends who alerted police following renewed interest in the case when police excavated the basement apartment of a building on the same block last month where Patz lived and Hernandez worked.
Kelly said police had informed Patz's parents, who have for years wondered just what happened to their 6-year-old son.
"We only hope these developments bring some measure of peace to the family," Kelly said.
Patz who disappeared on a rainy New York Day not unlike the one on which Hernandezs was arrested, launched the modern missing persons movement and led to missing children being featured on milk cartons.
Hernandez was taken into custody at his residence in Maple Shade, N.J., on Wednesday morning where he lives with his wife and daughter. The apartment is rented by his wife Rosemary Hernandez, who let her husband move in after he told her that he was dying of cancer.
New York City police officers accompanied by local cops took him into custody at his New Jersey home at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and brought him to the Camden County, N.J., Prosecutor's Office for initial questioning. He was then taken to New York City for additional questioning by authorities there.
Though police have named other suspects in the past none had ever been arrested or charged.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg declined to provide details today, but said, "A person of interest is in custody and being questioned."
"The suspect came forward and made a statement implicating himself. I caution you all that there's a lot more investigating to do," the mayor said.
Referring to Patz's family, Bloomberg said he hopes that "we are one step closer to providing them some measure of relief."
This morning, NYPD Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski walked along Prince Street, where Patz vanished. Pulaski and his team were reexamining the crime scene in light of new information they have obtained from questioning Hernandez.
The police commissioner is expected to hold a news conference later today. Neither Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, nor the FBI would comment on the investigation.
The search for Etan has been one of the largest, longest lasting and most heart wrenching hunts for a missing child in the country's recent history. His photo was among the first of a missing child to appear on a milk carton.