Pedro Hernandez, 51, confessed to NYPD detectives that he had choked Patz to death after luring him into the bodega where he had been employed for approximately one month. He promised him soda and candy, then led him to the basement where he murdered him.
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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said police focused on Hernandez, who now lives in Maple Shade, N.J., after the Missing Persons Squad received a tip from someone who remembered Hernandez speaking of having killed a child. Others close to Hernandez also recalled those claims, a source told NBC 4 New York.
Kelly did not answer whether Hernandez had a lawyer.
Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that the disappearance of Patz “broke the hearts of millions” across the nation, especially parents, and expressed sympathy again for the boy’s family.
“I certainly hope that we are one step closer to bringing them some measure of relief,” he said.
As previously reported by Newsone, Jamaican immigrant Othniel Miller, 75, was long considered the top suspect in the cold case. His niece accused him of raping her as a child, strengthening suspicions that he was guilty. After a cadaver-sniffing dog reacted strongly to the basement floor of an apartment building where Miller once worked as a handyman, the NYPD decided to reopen the case. Miller had coincidentally poured fresh concrete days after Patz’s disappearance and became visibly aroused looking at images of children when he was questioned by FBI investigators, reported the Daily Mail.
But suspicion obviously does not equal guilt.
A lawyer for Miller said his client is “relieved by these developments, as he was not involved in any way with Etan Patz’s disappearance.”
Hopefully, this news can at least bring some measure of peace to young Etan’s parents as well as the city of New York. The disappearance of the boy led to city-wide mania as parents began to rethink allowing their children to walk to the bus stop alone.