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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Suspect Indicted in 1979 Murder

51-year-old Pedro Hernandez allegedly told police that he killed 6-year-old Etan Patz in SoHo in 1979.

A grand jury indicted a suspect on charges of murder and kidnapping 33 years after the infamous disapearance of six-year-old Etan Patz in New York City.

Pedro Hernandez, 51 was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping for allegedly luring Patz into a

Etan Patz
Etan Patz
basement to kill him, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Hernandez was arrested earlier this year after a tipster told police that she had heard secondhand that Hernandez told a prayer group in the 1980s that he killed a child.

According to the criminal complaint, Hernandez told police that he led Patz into the basement at the bodega where he worked in 1979.  He then choked the young boy and tossed his body into a bag of trash a block away.

Hernandez's attorney Harvey Fishbein released a statement saying that Hernandez was recently diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, which can include auditory and visual hallucinations.

Fishbein claims that the entire case is based on a statements made by his mentally ill client and are "not supported by any evidence whatsoever despite extraordinary investigative efforts by the police back then and now."

"Nothing that occurs in the course of this trial will answer what actually happened to Etan Patz," said Fishbein.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office released a statement defending their case.

"This indictment is the outcome of a lengthy and deliberative process, involving months of a factual investigation and legal analysis," said DA spokeswoman Erin Duggan. Duggan added that the grand jury has found sufficient evident to charge Hernandez and that they believe the case should be presented to a jury.

Patz's haunting disappearance in 1979 led to an intensive search that raised awareness for missing children cases in the U.S.  Patz was the first child to have his face put on a milk carton and his case led to May 25 being deemed as National Missing Chidlren's Day.

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