Police in New York say they have man in custody who has implicated himself in the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz, the Jewish boy snatched off the streets of his lower Manhattan neighborhood.
The suspect is Pedro Hernandez, 51, a former bodega clerk from Patz’s SoHo neighborhood, the Daily News reported. He now lives in Camden, N.J., with his wife and college-aged daughter.
Hernandez told police that he lured the innocent little boy into a basement by offering a soda, the paper said. Then 19, he strangled him and stuffed him in a bag.
The suspect said he didn’t know why he killed the boy.
Although police called the evidence against Hernandez “credible,” others said the case remains flimsy. One investigator said they were in the “first inning” of building a case, the New York Times reported.
Hernandez denied sexually abusing the boy, but police are skeptical of that claim, the New York Post reported.
In his written confession, Hernandez stated, “I’m sorry, I shoke [sic] him,” the sources told the Post.
Patz, who was 6 at the time of his disappearance, never made it to his school bus stop on March 25, 1979, the first time he had walked to the bus stop by himself. His mother did not realize that he had not been in school all day until he failed to return home at the end of the school day.
The case was eerily similar to that of little Leiby Kletzky, the Orthodox boy who was abducted and killed last summer as he walked home alone from day camp in Brooklyn for the first time.
Police took the man into custody on Wednesday, and said they would release more details on Thursday.
In April, police dug up a basement in SoHo that belonged to a former handyman, Othniel Miller, which was located on Etan’s route to the school bus. No new evidence was uncovered.
Jose Ramos, 68, a convicted pedophile due to be released from prison in November, was declared responsible for Etan’s death in a 2004 civil case. But no one was ever arrested and charged with the boy’s disappearance.
It is unclear what would happen to that case if Hernandez is convicted in the crime.