May 24, 2012
A man in custody in Manhattan has confessed to strangling Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy who vanished in SoHo on his way to school in 1979, wrapping his body in a bag and putting it in a box, a law enforcement official said on Thursday.
The man, Pedro Hernandez, told investigators that he left the box at a location in Manhattan, but when he returned several days later the box was no longer there, the official said. Investigators recently took Mr. Hernandez to that location. A second official also said that Mr. Hernandez told the authorities he had strangled the boy and discarded his body.
Shortly after Etan’s disappearance, Mr. Hernandez, who in 1979 worked at a bodega near where the boy disappeared, moved to the Camden area, where he has many relatives, a law enforcement official said.
Investigators interviewed Mr. Hernandez for much of the day on Wednesday in the prosecutor’s office in Camden County in southern New Jersey.
Mr. Hernandez was taken into custody late Wednesday in New Jersey and was taken to the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose prosecutors are overseeing the inquiry by New York police detectives and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Investigators were tracking down several of the relatives to interview them to hear what, if anything, Mr. Hernandez has said about the crime. Investigators believe he has alluded or confessed to the crime to several family members over the years, the official said.
Mr. Hernandez was apparently very emotional during the confession, the official said, adding that the confession was videotaped, which is standard practice in New Jersey.
“An individual now in custody has made statements to N.Y.P.D. detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement issued early Thursday.
It is unclear whether investigators have been able to independently corroborate the account Mr. Hernandez has provided. Without any trace of human remains or other forensic evidence, any possible prosecution of Mr. Hernandez would face significant evidentiary hurdles.
The 33-year-old investigation into the young boy’s disappearance and presumed death has seen a parade of suspects and a range of theories. Last month, the F.B.I. and the New York Police Department spent five days tearing apart the basement of a building on Prince Street, just doors away from the longtime Patz family home, along the route the boy took on the day he disappeared.
He was on his way to a school bus stop. It was the first time that his parents had allowed him to go the stop by himself.
That search was based on a belief among investigators that a local handyman who kept a workshop in the basement in 1979 had abducted and murdered the boy and possibly buried his body there beneath a concrete floor. No obvious human remains were found. Etan’s parents still live on Prince Street.
The focus on Mr. Hernandez is the latest investigative development since the unsuccessful basement search.
Investigators have focused on Mr. Hernandez as a suspect in the past, one official said, although it was not immediately clear when he became the subject of renewed interest.
Mr. Vance said in 2010 that he would reopen the case, which focused national attention 30 years ago on the problem of missing children and began a new era marked by children’s faces on milk cartons and made-for-television dramas about kidnapped children. President Ronald Reagan declared May 25, the day of Etan’s disappearance, as National Missing Children’s Day.
The police have long had a prime suspect in the case, Jose A. Ramos, a convicted child molester who lived on the Lower East Side and was an acquaintance of a woman who worked for the Patzes as a baby sitter. Mr. Ramos remains imprisoned for molesting a boy in Pennsylvania, but has denied kidnapping or killing Etan.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
75496 859515458 81
his path of destiny = 81 = Review. Revisit.
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