Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Case Update: Investigators Return Friday to Search SoHo Building

Update: On August 9 police searched the site of the small market where Pedro Hernandez claims to have killed Etan Patz the day he went missing in 1979, and removed five large paper bags and tools, including a shovel from the retail space. Investigators returned to the site Friday, and continued the search, erecting barricades to keep out onlookers. Police have not made any announcements regarding what they removed from the site, or what they may have found during the search.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Investigators ‘Certain’ that Pedro Hernandez Killed Etan Patz

New details have emerged in the case of missing boy Etan Patz that have New York City police “absolutely certain” that Pedro Hernandez is guilty of killing the boy. This new information comes from Hernandez’ first wife who told police that she found a photo of Etan in her husband’s personal things in the 1980s. The photo, she related, looked as though it had been cut from a missing poster. She told police that she had asked Hernandez what it was, and that he had replied, “You better put that away.” He told her to never again touch it. She said he kept the photo for years, though he no longer has it, and police have not found it. Today investigators continued to search for evidence tying Hernandez to Patz. New York Police Department Spokesman Paul Brown confirmed that police did return to the SoHo eyeglass shop, that in 1979 was the Bodega that employed Hernandez, then 18, to search for evidence. No confirmation was given on exactly where or how they are searching, except that they are not acting on any new information, and are only looking in a part of the retail space that has not yet been searched.

In addition to searching the space of the old bodega, police have searched Hernandez’ home, but have not turned up anything to link him to Etan. At the time of Etan’s disappearance Hernandez was not interviewed by police, nor was the owner of the bodega, who is now dead. Even so, investigators believe that the testimony of Hernandez’ first wife, combined with other details implicating Hernandez in Etan’s disappearance, may go a long way to convincing a grand jury that Hernandez killed Etan. The cold case gained momentum in May 2012 when Hernandez, 51, confessed to killing Etan on May 25, 1979, the same day that the child disappeared, and even wrote “I killed him” on the back of a photo of Etan for police. Over the years Hernandez has confessed to others that he committed the murder, and even left his job in SoHo abruptly, just weeks after Etan’s disappearance.

The case against Hernandez, however, is far from closed. He has a history of schizophrenia and hallucinations, that have given some the idea that may have deluded himself into believing that he killed Etan, not unlike John Mark Carr believed that he was “with” JonBenet Ramsey when she was killed. Hernandez is currently in police custody, and is being held without bail.

The Disappearance of Etan Patz

Child Abduction: My Baby is Missing!

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