Tomorrow will mark 33 years to the day since 6-year-old Etan Patz went missing as he walked alone for the first time from his house to a bus stop two blocks away. It was announced earlier today by New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly that a man is in custody in connection with the little boy’s disappearance, according to the New York Post.
Pedro Hernandez, who has long been a person of interest in the case, was arrested in New Jersey after telling investigators he “lured the boy with candy, stabbed him, cut up his remains and put them in plastic bags,” and threw them in the trash. Investigators are said to have no hope to recover his remains.
Henandez lived and worked just a few blocks away from where Etan lived at the time he vanished.
Shortly after Etan was gone, Hernandez allegedly confessed his crime to family members and also told a spiritual adviser about what he’d done — although he didn’t use the boy’s name.
In April, authorities dug up the basement of a building near where the Patz family lived in Soho, and it was at that time that a Hernandez relative called the police.
“I certainly hope that we are one step closer to bringing them some measure of relief,” Mayor Bloomberg said of the Patz family on Thursday morning.
Etan’s disappearance lead to an international manhunt, and he was the first-ever missing child to appear on the side of a milk carton. He was declared dead in 2001, although the case was reopened in 2010.
Since there are no human remains or forensic evidence linking Hernandez to Etan, it’s unclear how successful a prosecution of him would be, according to the New York Times.
May 25 is now known as National Missing Children’s Day, and “the powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families,” according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (Go here for an invaluable list of 25 ways to keep your kids safe.)
His story has been so highly publicized over the years, and many parents have changed the way they are raising their children as a result.
Photo credit: Wikipedia