New York

Etan Patz Disappearance: NYPD Says Person In Custody Has Implicated Himself In Boy's Death

NEW YORK -- The New York City police commissioner says a person who's in custody has implicated himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz (AY'-tahn payts) 33 years ago.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement that further details would be released later Thursday.

The New York Times reports that Pedro Hernandez, 51, claims he strangled the boy, wrapped him in a bag and put his body in a box:

The man, Pedro Hernandez, told investigators that he left the box at a location in Manhattan, but when he returned several days later the box was no longer there, the official said.

At the time of Patz's disappearance, Hernandez lived in the 6-year-old's neighborhood and worked at a nearby bodega. Investigators have considered him suspect before.

The New York Post reports Hernandez moved to New Jersey after Patz disappeared. There he twice confessed to killing a child-- first to his family and second to a spiritual adviser, but in neither instance did he name Patz as the victim. When a family member of Hernandez's heard last month that officials were digging up a basement in Soho looking for Patz's body, they contacted police.

The Times notes that officials are approaching the confession cautiously.

At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed sympathy for the boy's family, who never changed their phone number or address in case the boy ever reached out. "I certainly hope that we are one step closer to bringing them a measure of relief," he said.

The 6-year-old vanished while walking to a Manhattan bus stop in 1979.

The April excavation of a Manhattan basement yielded no obvious human remains and little forensic evidence that would help solve the decades-long mystery of what happened to Patz.

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