Thursday, May 24, 2012

Man Confesses to Murder of Etan Patz (Again) (UPDATE)

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.)

But City Room says the guy has alluded to or confessed to the crime -- without naming names -- over the years, and say he was "very emotional" during the confession. Police are tracking down family members to confirm these alleged confessions, but it remains unclear if authorities have -- or will ever be able to -- independently corroborate Hernandez's version of events. More troubling to me, however, is that there seems to be no motive, so it just doesn't make any sense.

Detroit footnote:
My friend Frank points out this comment on the NYT site:

Cambridge, Mass.
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.


Writer said...

I thought the NYT also reported that the Confessor said he'd put Patz's body in a box and when he came back for it, the box was gone. I really don't think until Patz's body is found this will ever really be over.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Writer: YES, good point. Added that to my post, thanks! Who puts a body in a box and then misplaces it? Doesn't add up.

Tom W. said...

I don't know if there will ever be closure to this story OR the Oakland County Child Killer(s) story, which we both lived through as Detroit area residents at the time. Has the book on the Oakland County Child Killer(s) been finished? You had a lengthy story about the author a while back...

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Tom W: You're so right, both have grown so cold.

As for the book: I hear it's done and I know the author is shopping it around now.

Liza said...

I wonder how many other "Etans" there have been in the 30 years since then? People twisted and evil enough to do it once don't usually stop there.