Confessed Etan Patz Killer Plans To Fight Charges

Lawyer: Schizophrenic's Statement Worthless in Child Slay

By Reuters

Published November 15, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The man who confessed to the 1979 killing of 6-year-old Etan Patz made a brief courtroom appearance on Thursday, standing silently in a gray T-shirt as a prosecutor told the judge that murder charges had been formally filed nearly three decades after the slaying.

Etan Patz
Etan Patz

Pedro Hernandez, 51, did not enter a plea during the hearing in Manhattan, which lasted just minutes. His lawyer later told reporters that Hernandez was innocent and would eventually plead not guilty, despite the previous confession.

“Statements made by my client are not reliable. They are what we term false confessions,” said attorney Harvey Fishbein, who has previously described Hernandez as suffering from schizophrenia.

The hearing came a day after prosecutors announced a grand jury indictment against Hernandez that charged him with kidnapping and murder. The next scheduled court date is Dec. 12.

It was Hernandez’s second court appearance - the first came shortly after his arrest in May - in a case that has haunted the city for more than three decades and altered the way the United States responds to missing children.

Patz’s disappeared from a Manhattan street on May 25, 1979, on his first walk alone to the school bus stop. 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 the downtown Soho neighborhood in the late 1970s before moving to New Jersey.

The Patz family was not present in court on Thursday.

“This trial will take time and take money and it will not tell the city - and unfortunately will not tell the Patz family - what happened to Etan Patz,” said defense attorney Fishbein, who has said his client did not commit the crime.

He said Hernandez remained under psychiatric treatment and that to his knowledge police had not uncovered any evidence beyond the confession that would point to his client as the killer.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Erin Duggan, said prosecutors believe Hernandez’s confession will withstand scrutiny.

“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,” she said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

A report prepared by a state mental health expert deemed Hernandez fit to stand trial.

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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • 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."
  • 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.