2012-05-26 04:53:54 UTC
are responsible for this.
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - A man has been arrested in the 1979
disappearance of a 6-year-old New York City boy. It's the first
arrest ever made in a case that helped give rise to the nation's
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says Pedro Hernandez
of Maple Shade, N.J., has been arrested in the killing of Etan
Patz (AY'-tahn payts). It's not immediately clear whether
Hernandez has a lawyer.
Kelly says Hernandez confessed to the crime. Hernandez worked at
a convenience store near Etan's Manhattan home. A law
enforcement official says Hernandez told investigators this week
he suffocated the boy and left his body in a box in an alley.
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller earlier reported the
individual, identified as Hernandez, then 18-years old, once
worked in a SoHo shop just blocks from Patz's home in lower
Manhattan. Detectives say he confessed to killing Patz. Sources
say that Hernandez admitted to luring the boy into the store
with candy, strangling him, and placing the body in a box. He
said he put the box out with the trash and when he came back
later, it was gone.
"He basically said he did it," a law enforcement source told CBS
News. Investigators say while Hernandez's story may be difficult
to corroborate, they believe he is credible.
While a source who has been briefed on the investigation could
not provide details, the source indicated that it is unlikely a
body will be recovered. "The way he [Hernandez] described how
the body was disposed of, it does not sound like we would be
able to recover remains at this point."
Hernandez, 51, was questioned by New York City detectives for
hours in Camden, N.J., Wednesday before agreeing to come to New
York City with investigators, where he has been questioned
further at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
Kelly said in a statement earlier Thursday that the individual
made statements "implicating himself" in the boy's 1979
disappearance and death.
Speaking at a news conference on Coney Island, Mayor Michael
Bloomberg cautioned that "there is still a lot more
investigating to do," according to CBS New York.
Hernandez had lived in New Jersey since the early 1980s and his
family members left his home Thursday afternoon under police
escort without commenting. Hernandez has a trail of arrests for
minor charges including bad checks, drunken driving, and at
least one charge of domestic violence.
A woman who answered the door at Hernandez's Maple Shade, N.J.,
home confirmed to the Associated Press that he was in custody.
Neighbors said he lived with a woman and a daughter who attends
"I can't believe something like that," neighbor Dan Wollick, 71,
told the AP. "This guy, he doesn't seem that way."
It's unclear what led police to question Hernandez. There has
been a list of around 10 suspects in the cold case that the
district attorney's office intended to focus on, but Hernandez
wasn't on that list, Miller reports.
After vanishing May 25, 1979, while walking by himself for the
first time to his school-bus stop, Patz sparked a national
outcry over missing children, becoming the first missing child
whose picture was put on the side of a milk carton. Friday is
the 33-year anniversary of Patz's disappearance.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office reopened the search for
Patz in 2010. In April, police and the FBI spent days digging up
a basement in Patz's SoHo neighborhood looking for clues.
Sources told CBS News then that cadaver dogs had indicated the
presence of human remains during a search there but a subsequent
search and analysis found no such traces.
Patz was officially declared dead in 2001 so the family could
pursue a civil lawsuit against Jose Ramos, a convicted child
molester serving time in prison who for years was the most
prominent suspect. His girlfriend used to babysit Patz. Ramos
has denied killing the boy, though a civil judge found him
responsible for Patz's death in 2004.
Recently, investigators questioned a 75-year-old Brooklyn
handyman who in 1979 had a workspace in the basement that was
excavated last month. The man, Othniel Miller, was not named as
a suspect and denied any involvement.
Miller's lawyer said there was no connection between Miller and
"There has been no law enforcement action taken or implicated
against Mr. Miller as of yet. Mr. Miller is relieved by these
developments, as he was not involved in any way with Etan Patz's
disappearance," attorney Michael Farkas said.
The Patz family is on vacation out of state and was not
available for comment on the latest developments.