It's being reported that police are questioning a former SoHo bodega worker who is now claiming he kidnapped, stabbed and strangled Etan Patz, the 6-year-old boy whose disappearance sparked a new era in the hunt for missing children.
According to The New York Post: Sources identified the man as Pedro Hernandez. He was arrested near Camden, NJ, yesterday and taken to New York City for questioning. The man in custody told investigators that he lured the boy with candy, stabbed him, cut up his remains and put them in plastic bags, a law enforcement source told The Post. The suspect lived just a few blocks away from Patz and worked at a neighborhood bodega when the little boy went missing, the source said.
As much as I would like for there to be some answers for the Patz family -- and the nation -- my first reaction is to be highly skeptical of this confession. The intense media coverage last month is just the kind of cat nip to inspire a loon to insert himself into the story. (Remember the freak who confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey???) And the fact that authorities so far are saying he's provided no information that wasn't already made public -- and that he says he put the body in a box that "went missing" (?????) -- only fuels my skepticism. (That, and the fact that he confessed in 1979 and police dismissed him as a wacko.)
A tragic case, for which we can only hope that the current investigation will shed light on. It was, however, not the signal event that NYTimes reporters often proclaim it to be. E.g., the "Oakland County Child Killer" (see wikipedia) was responsible for at least 4 abductions and killings from 1976-1977. These cases were heavily reported around the state of Michigan, and around the country. Sadly, there were also other cases in the nation's consciousness before 1979.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told Etan's parents that Pedro Hernandez will be charged in the murder of their son -- completely based on a confession. This has disaster written all over it. The Times disagrees with The Daily Beast's reporting that Hernandez had confessed to the police before. Sounds like a lot of conflicting/erroneous reporting going on. I get it a month before he recants his confession. Stay tuned.