A New Jersey man, who formerly worked as a bodega stock clerk has been arrested for the infamous disappearance and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, in New York City 33 years ago.
Pedro Hernandez (51), was taken to Bellevue hospital on Friday where he was placed on suicide watch. A hospital bedside arraignment was expected Friday afternoon.
Etan Patz disappeared while he was walking to his school bus in his SoHo neighborhood by himself for the first time, prompting a major murder probe, which remained unsolved for decades.
Hernandez claims to have lured then 6-year-old Etan Patz with candy before strangling him in a basement in May, 1979.
The New York Times reports that on Thursday, Hernandez “emotionally” confessed to the abduction and murder of Etan Patz. Hernandez told investigators that he strangled Patz and left his body in a box in Manhattan. However, when Hernandez returned several days later to get the box, it was no longer where he had left it. Investigators took Hernandez to the location where he said he had left Patz’s body.
A second official said to the New York Times that Hernandez confessed to murdering and discarding the body of Etan Patz.
At the time of Etan’s disappearance, Pedro Hernandez worked in a bodega in the SoHo neighborhood where the Patz family lived. After the murder, Hernandez relocated to Camden, New Jersey.
A source tells NBC News that Hernandez was picked up after officials received “a tip from a relative who remembered Hernandez speaking of having killed a child and disposing of the body at a bodega where he worked in SoHo. Another relative and a religious mentor also recalled those claims, the source said.”
"In the years following Etan's disappearance, Hernandez had told a family member, and others, that he had 'done a bad thing' and killed a child in New York," Commissioner Ray Kelly told said during a press conference.
Law officials are said to have been trying to contact Hernandez’s relatives in Camden to gain further information as to whether or not Hernandez ever said anything about the crime to them. It is believed that he has “alluded or confessed” to his crimes to his family over the years.
Hernandez was interrogated and interviewed much of the day of Wednesday in Camden County in New Jersey. Police picked up Hernandez in Camden, New Jersey on Wednesday night and brought him 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.for questioning.
The new information in the case comes just weeks after a basement in the Patz’s neighborhood was excavated when there was there was a tip that Etan Patz may have been buried there. The basement had had a new layer of concrete poured over it shortly after Etan’s disappearance. That search, however, was inconclusive.
Another man, Jose Ramos, has been connected to the case for a long time. He was the girlfriend of Etan Patz’s babysitter and known to be a drifter in the neighborhood. Ramos was arrested in the early 1980s on charges of theft and was found to have pictures of young, blond boys similar to Etan Patz in his backpack. However, there has been no concrete evidence to connect him to the disappearance of Patz in 1979.
In 2001, Etan’s father Stan Patz had his son legally declared dead in order to sue Ramos for the disappearance and death of Etan. Ramos has never been criminally charged with the boy's death and denies harming the boy, but in 2004 a civil judge found Ramos to be responsible for the child's death.
The lawyer for the Patz family, prominent Irish-American lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, has helped the family through their legal proceedings for over a decade now. O’Dwyer was unable to offer comments about the new developments in respect to the Patz’s desire for privacy at this time.
The unsolved disappearance of Etan Patz has since begun a new era of anxieties of leaving children unsupervised. Patz is now known for the being the first missing child pictured on milk cartons. On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bloomberg said that Patz’s disappearance "broke the hearts of millions" across the nation, especially parents. "I certainly hope that we are one step closer to bringing them some measure of relief."
Etan’s parents, Stan and Julie, still live in their SoHo apartment and have not changed their phone number in hopes that Etan may someday try to reach them again.