While the excavation of a Soho basement on Prince Street in April yielded almost no clues into the disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who went missing from the area in 1979, it appears the NYPD might have a new suspect in the case. Police commissioner Ray Kelly officially remained mum on the identity of the suspect, but various publications have named Pedro Hernandez, a New Jersey resident who was apperantly arrested yesterday. According to various reports, Hernandez revealed information to police implicating himself in the murder of the young boy.
The New York Post reported that Hernandez told police he “lured the boy with candy, stabbed him, cut up his remains and put them in plastic bags.” Hernandez is said to have worked in the area at the time of Patz’s disappearance, and the Post writes he had admitted to killing a child to several family members and others. While police were looking for new leads in the basement of the Prince Street building, at the intersection of Spring Street, a relative of Hernandez reportedly called police.
This timing of this news is particularly interesting as Patz went missing on May 25, 1979, almost 33 years to the day of Hernandez’s arrest. Patz, who lived with his parents and two siblings on Prince Street had begged his parents to walk along to catch the school bus on nearby West Broadway. He was last seen walking to the stop that morning.
Patz soon became the poster child of missing children across the country, and thanks to the tenacity of his parents, he became the first child to have their face on a milk carton.
Sean Sweeney, Director of the SoHo Alliance and a longtime neighborhood resident, recalls when SoHo was filled with artist lofts and industrial retail stores at the time of Etan’s disappearance. The residents were a very close knit community, he said.
“When Etan Patz disappeared, his mother contacted all the other mothers. There wasn’t a lamp post south of 8th St. that didn’t have his missing child poster on it,” said Sweeney. “I think part of Etan being so well known was that his parents were tenacious. His father was a photographer and they had a good picture of him. At the time, missing children were barely reported in the news or not at all.”
During a public statement to the press yesterday evening, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed the arrest of arrest of Pedro Hernandez, 51, of Maple Shade, N.J., for murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz.
Hernandez who worked as a stock boy at a bodega and lived in an apartment on W. Broadway. According to his 3 hour confession to police, Hernandez lured Etan into the bodega, located on 488 W. Broadway, with the promise of a soda before choking him to death. He then placed the body in a plastic bag and tossed it in with the garbage.
“Earlier this month the NYPD missing person’s squad received information from an individual which led them to identify Hernandez as a person of interest in Etan’s disappearance on May 25, 1979,” said Kelly. “In the years following Etan’s disappearance, Hernandez had told a family member and others that he had, quote, done a bad thing and killed a child in New York.”
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