The NYPD and FBI have started a renewed search for Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 when his parents allowed him to walk alone to catch his bus to school
Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The FBI isn’t really convinced that Pedro Heranandez killed Etan Patz in 1979, sources tell the New York Daily News. FBI investigators apparently think there are inconsistencies to the confession, which, tied to Hernandez’s mental health history made some in the district attorney’s office push for a search of more proof before the arrest.
In what looks like a response to the Daily News piece, sources tell the New York Post that Hernandez provided detectives with “intimate details” about Patz’s murder that were never revealed to the public. The details in question are allegedly only known by about a dozen current law-enforcement officials. “They thought there were medical issues and he might be one of those publicity seekers,” one source said. “But pretty seasoned detectives are confident this is the guy based on information he had.”
Saturday, May 26: Pedro Hernandez, 51, who confessed to abducting and strangling Etan Patz 33 years ago Friday, has suffered bipolar disorder, hallucinations, and schizophrenia. In his first court appearance, Hernandez didn’t enter a plea and didn’t speak, but his attorney, Harvey Fishbein, outlined what he described as his “long psychiatric history,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The revelation made it clear that the case against Hernandez will not be an easy endeavor.
Hernandez, who is being held at Bellevue Hospital in New York, said he killed Patz in the basement of a convenience store where he worked, put his body in a bag and left it with the trash. His confession forced police to bring the case to court before they had time to gather their own evidence, points out the Associated Press.
Although a confession would seem to resolve the case, that’s far from reality. Now police have to try to prove Hernandez did what he claims and isn’t just mentally disturbed. The fact that he says he simply put the body out with the trash makes it almost impossible to think that police could find the boy’s remains in landfills, points out the New York Times.
The New York Post talks to SoHo neighbors who were teenagers at the time of Patz’s disappearance who insist Hernandez was the only person in the neighborhood seemingly uninterested in finding the 6-year-old boy. “Every day, we were all out looking for Etan—everyone except Pedro,” said a man who was 16 at the time.
Friday, May 25: Pedro Hernandez, the man who confessed to killing 6-year-old Etan Patz after the boy vanished 33 years ago today, will make his first court appearance Friday.
NBC New York reports that Hernandez will be arraigned Friday, in a lower Manhattan courtroom. Police say that he doesn't yet have a lawyer.
While Hernandez's arrest provides some sort of initial closure to the case for many, Jim Dwyer writes in the New York Times that the publicity surrounding the arrest is cloaking just how little evidence the NYPD has to back up Hernandez's version of the story.
Thursday, May 24, 11:35 a.m.: A law enforcement official tells the New York Times that a suspect in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz has confessed to strangling the boy, and then wrapping his body in a bag and putting it in a box in a downtown Manhattan building.
News of the confession follows Thursday's official announcement that the NYPD had taken a suspect in the three-decade-old case into custody.
The man in question is reportedly Pedro Hernandez, a Camden, N.J., resident who in 1979 worked in a bodega near where the boy vanished.
Hernandez, who the Times reports was very emotional during his taped confession, had been considered a suspect during the decades following the boy's disappearance although it was not immediately clear what made him the object of authorities' interest.
More details of the confession are still emerging but you can head over to the Times report for more.
Thursday, May 24: The NYPD has a suspect in custody in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday.
There aren't many available details on the suspect just yet. Apparently, CNN reports, he is male and has somehow implicated himself in Patz's disappearance. The New York Times story on the suspect indicates that police are investigating the man's version of the story.
The Times notes that one law enforcement official named the suspect as Pedro Hernandez. He was taken into custody late Wednesday for questioning. The suspect has reportedly not yet given any details to the police not already on public record, but investigators are taking his claims seriously.
Patz disappeared from his home exactly 33 years ago as of Friday, when his parents let him walk alone from their SoHo apartment in Manhattan to his school bus stop. In 2001, Etan was declared legally dead.
Investigators have considered the prime suspect in the Patz case to be Jose Ramos, who dated one of Etan’s babysitters around the time Etan went missing and who is a convicted child molester. Ramos is currently serving time in Pennsylvania on another case, but he once admitted that he was with Etan the day he disappeared. Ramos has denied abducting or killing the boy.
In 2004 a Manhattan judge ruled Ramos responsible for Etan’s death, largely for his refusal to contest the case.
Monday, April 23: It appears as though the weekend search of a Manhattan basement that authorities had hoped held clues to the three-decade-old case of a missing child is winding down with no major breakthroughs.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said Monday that the search for evidence in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz ended without the discovery of any "obvious" human remains, CNN reports.
FBI experts, however, are not done with their investigation and plan to do another check of the basement to make sure nothing was overlooked.
Sources tell ABC News that the most promising discovery—a "stain of interest"—tested negative for blood in initial tests and that human hair found during the search was not blond, the color of Etan’s hair.
The FBI, however, is asking everyone not to read too much into the evidence, or apparent lack thereof, at this time. "The process of removing material, sorting it and analyzing it proceeds at a deliberate pace," the agency said in a statement.
Thursday, April 19:The FBI and New York Police Department began searching a Manhattan basement Thursday morning in hopes of finally determining what happened to 6-year-old Etan Patz, who was one of the first missing children to be featured on milk cartons after he went missing in 1979.
Patz disappeared without a trace when, for the first time, his parents allowed him to take the short walk alone from their SoHo apartment to catch his school bus. His parents have never moved nor changed their phone number in the three decades since in hopes he might return or call.
Investigators haven’t publicly said what led them to search the basement, which is less than a block from the Patz family home. But a law enforcement official, speaking under anonymity, told the Associated Press that the building housed the workspace of a carpenter who was thought to have been friendly with Etan at the time of his disappearance.
Meanwhile, the New York Times notes that the basement being searched is along the route Etan is thought to have taken the day he went missing. The basement was also a known meeting place for sexual liaisons at the time.
Investigators have long suspected Jose Ramos, who dated one of Etan’s babysitters around the time Etan went missing and who is a convicted child molester, of being involved in the disappearance. Ramos is currently serving time in Pennsylvania on another case, but he once admitted that he was with Etan the day he disappeared. Ramos has denied abducting or killing the boy, however.
In 2001, Etan was declared legally dead, and in 2004 a Manhattan judge ruled Ramos responsible for Etan’s death, largely for his refusal to contest the case.