A suspect in one of the most infamous child abduction cases in Manhattan’s history has been indicted on murder and kidnapping charges.
Pedro Hernandez was indicted on the charges on Wednesday, and will face a state court in Manhattan on Thursday. Hernandez has been charged in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz.
6-year-old Etan Patz vanished in his SoHo neighborhood back in 1979, when he left home to walk two blocks to his bus stop by himself for the first time. His disappearance set off a large search, but his body has never been found. Etan Patz was among the first children to have their picture printed on a milk carton. May 25th, the day of Etan’s disappearance, is now recognized as National Missing Children’s Day.
His father, Stan Patz, was a professional photographer who used his skills to raise awareness about his son’s case by putting his photograph out into the public.
The 30-year-old case will undoubtedly be a difficult one to prove. Patz’s body was never found, and there is little evidence in the case, aside from an alleged confession from the defendant.
Hernandez had apparently confessed to the crime on several occasions to family and friends, and an anonymous tip led authorities to investigate Hernandez, who was never previously considered a suspect in the case.
Prior to Hernandez becoming a suspect, authorities had long focused on another suspect, Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester.
Ramos had been a friend of Etan Patz’s babysitter at the time the boy vanished. He was quickly identified as a suspect in the boy’s disappearance, although there was never enough evidence to prosecute him. Jailhouse informants would later said that Ramos had admitted to knowing what happened to Etan Patz, although Ramos himself has since denied knowing the boy or what happened to him.
Ramos made headlines recently when it was announced that he would be released from prison earlier this month, having served 25 years on child molestation charges. The Patz family would later file a civil lawsuit against Ramos, who was found responsible for the boy’s disappearance, though a criminal case could not be filed due to lacking evidence.
Pedro Hernandez, who worked at a local grocery store at the time of the crime, was never named as a suspect until last spring, when he confessed following a tip to police. Hernandez said that he strangled the boy, then put his body in a garbage bag.