Pedro Hernandez, the former store clerk who confessed to the killing of six-year-old Etan Patz in 1979, was formally charged with second degree murder, ABC News is reporting. Hernandez, who was never the target of police until this week, was arrested on Wednesday at his New Jersey home. He immediately confessed to kidnapping and killing Patz.
After New York City police announced his arrest, he was taken under guard to Bellevue Hospital this morning and placed on suicide watch. Hernandez will be arraigned from his hospital room via closed circuit television. Hernandez admitted to police that when he was 19, he lured Patz into the basement of the store where he worked, promising to give him soda. In a criminal complaint against Hernandez, Detective David Ramirez said that the defendant strangled Patz and placed him in a plastic bag. Hernandez said he threw the plastic bag in the trash somewhere in the neighborhood, but the body was never found.
Hernandez’s arraignment coincides with the 33rd anniversary of Patz’s disappearance. The search for the boy was one of the largest and longest-lasting in America’s recent history. Patz’s picture was the first to be featured on a milk cartoon.
Written by: Karen Benardello