Man Who Confessed Indicted in Etan Patz Slay

Despite Questions, Pedro Hernandez Faces Trial in Killing

By Reuters

Published November 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz was indicted on Wednesday for the child’s kidnapping and murder, according to a court document.

Etan Patz
Etan Patz

A state grand jury charged Pedro Hernandez, 51, with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping, the indictment said.

Hernandez was expected to be arraigned on Thursday in state Supreme Court, said Erin Duggan, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Patz’s disappearance on May 25, 1979, on his first walk alone to the school bus stop, drew national attention. He was one of the first missing children whose face appeared on a milk carton as part of an appeal for information from the public.

Three decades later, Hernandez confessed in May to luring the boy and strangling him. He had worked at a deli near the Patz home in New York’s Soho neighborhood in the late 1970s before moving to New Jersey.

“We believe the evidence that Mr. Hernandez killed Etan Patz to be credible and persuasive and that his statements are not the product of any mental illness,” Duggan said.

Hernandez’s lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, said his client suffers from schizophrenia and his mental illness prompted his statement to police. He said there is no other evidence against his client.

“The statements alleged by the (prosecution) are not supported by any evidence whatsoever despite extraordinary investigative efforts by the police back then and now,” Fishbein said in an email statement to Reuters.

His client suffers hallucinations and “has an IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range,” Fishbein said.

The mystery surrounding Patz’s decades-long disappearance, which changed the way authorities respond to missing children reports, will not be solved by putting his client on trial, Fishbein said.

“Nothing that occurs in the course of this trial will answer what actually happened to Etan Patz,” Fishbein said.

For years, another man, Jose Ramos, a friend of Patz’s babysitter, was the prime suspect in the case, although he was never criminally charged. Ramos was found liable for Patz’s death in a 2004 civil case.

Ramos, 69, was recently released from a Pennsylvania prison after serving 20 years for molesting children but was immediately rearrested pending other charges.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.