Criminal Justice

Police: Man Admits to 33-year-old Murder of Etan Patz

A New Jersey man has confessed to the 1979 murder of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who vanished on his way to school in lower Manhattan 33 years ago Friday, New York police say.

The man, Pedro Hernandez, told police he strangled the boy, wrapped his body in a bag, put the body in a box and left it an an undisclosed location in Manhattan, the New York Times reports. When he went back to retrieve the box several days later, Hernandez said, the box was gone.

Shortly after the boy’s disappearance, Hernandez, who then worked at a bodega near where the boy disappeared, moved to southern New Jersey, where he has relatives.

Herndandez’ confession comes a month after investigators, acting on a tip, spent five days excavating a SoHo basement near the scene of the boy’s disappearance in what turned out to be a fruitless search for his remains.

News of the confession is the latest chapter in a wrenching story that has tormented the city since the boy vanished on his first trip to a school bus stop by himself. Police have followed many leads over the years, but all have come to a dead end.

Investigators are now tracking down several of Hernandez’s relatives to interview them about what, if anything, Hernandez may have told them about the crime. Police believe he has either alluded to or confessed to the killing to several family members.

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