Pedro Hernandez Found Guilty of Murder and Kidnapping, Etan Patz Case Closed
Feb 15, 2017 11:23 AM EST
Pedro Hernandez is finally convicted of the 1979 murder and kidnapping of 6-year-old Etan Patz on Tuesday. A New York jury brought to a close what prosecutors call one of the city's "oldest and most painful unsolved crimes."
The guilty verdict against 56-year-old Hernandez marks the end of nearly 40 years of agonizing wait for Etan's parents. "The Patz family has waited a long time, but we've finally have found some measure of justice for our little boy Etan," said his father, Stanley.
Etan disappeared on May 25, 1979 as he walked to a school bus stop. His photo appeared on milk cartons across the country in the early 1980s, a method used to help locate missing children, according to CNN.
The prosecutors told a Manhattan jury that Hernandez brought Patz into the basement of a bodega on the corner of West Broadway and Prince Street, luring him with a soda. In the basement, Hernandez apparently choked the boy to death and stuffed his dead body into a plastic garbage bag that he later concealed inside a cardboard box. The box was eventually left with other trash in an alley more than a block from the store.
Hernandez confessed to police after a 7½ hour interrogation. However, his lawyers tried adding a twist to the statement, saying that he made up his account of the crime on Patz due to his severe mental illness. Hernandez has been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, a condition informally thought of as "eccentric" personality disorders.
However, juror Mike Castellon called the mental health issue "a red herring". He addressed Hernandez's disorder saying, "We decided he has that illness. But that didn't make him delusional. We think that he could tell right from wrong. He could tell fantasy from reality."
Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and kidnapping of Etan Patz, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison beginning the end of this month. Meanwhile, CEO and president of The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. John F. Clark, thinks that the abduction awakened the nation to child abduction and changed the way law enforcement investigates these crimes.