Man convicted of murder almost four decades after NY boy's disappearance

Etan Patz Jury Finds Pedro Hernandez Guilty In Boy's Death

Almost forty years after 6-year-old Etan Patz vanished on the way to his school bus stop, a former convenience store clerk was convicted Tuesday of murder in a case that influenced American parenting and law enforcement.

Defense lawyers also pointed to a different man who was long the prime suspect - a convicted Pennsylvania child molester who made incriminating remarks about Etan's case in the 1990s and who had dated a woman acquainted with the Patzes. He disappeared in May 1979 while walking to his school bus stop two blocks from his home in the downtown SoHo section of NY for the first time by himself.

Jurors delivered their verdict Tuesday.

"Bringing closure on Etan's disappearance to the Patz family has also been among my highest priorities since I took office", Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said in a statement after a jury convicted Pedro Hernandez, 56, of Maple Shade, N.J., of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder.

The verdict on Tuesday came on the ninth day of deliberations after a three-month retrial. "I'm really grateful this jury finally came back with what I've known for a long time: that this person, Pedro Hernandez, did a really bad thing". But they have said that for years, Hernandez told his relatives and ex-wife about how he had murdered a child in 1981. He initially confessed to detectives, but later withdrew his confession. National Missing Children's Day was established on May 25th, the anniversary of Patz's disappearance.

"For me, the whole case kind of hinges on mental health, which factors into what I think are the false confessions - or at least the likelihood of false confessions being made by him", Sirois said in an interview with the New York Post.

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"The Patz family has waited a long time, but we've finally found some measure of justice for our wonderful little boy, Etan", his father, Stanley Patz, said through his tears.

The verdict was handed down nine days after they began deliberations.

Over the years, Hernandez told a friend, his ex-wife and a church group that he had killed a young person in NY by choking and dumping the body, though the details varied, according to trial testimony.

For one juror, Hernandez's purported confession seemed suspicious. " Then, in 2012, Etan's case took another turn".

Authorities have said that when Hernandez confessed, he provided investigators with incriminating details. He was one of the first children to appear on the side of a milk carton. Hernandez strangled Etan and then put his body in a plastic garbage bag that he concealed inside a cardboard box, according to prosecutors Hernandez eventually left the box with other trash in an alley more than a block away, prosecutors said. "I wanted to let go, but I just couldn't let go".