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May 25, 1979, I was seven. Etan Patz was six. My walks to school on Staten Island changed immediately. We used to "cut through the woods" in Richmondtown to get to P.S. 23. That stopped. The school had an assembly in the auditorium to teach us about warning signs from predators. The next year, a 10-year-old girl named Lorraine Pacifico was murdered in nearby Oakwood. Those were formative years. Dark moments in an otherwise blessed childhood.
One day before the 33rd anniversary of the disappearance of Etan Patz, police say an individual in custody has made statements "implicating himself" in Etan's "disappearance and death." Law enforcement sources reportedly say Pedro Hernandez of Camden, New Jersey confessed to suffocating the six-year-old boy and leaving his body in a box in a Manhattan alley.
On May 25, 1979, Etan disappeared in SoHo on his first trip alone to school. The case helped give rise to the missing-children's movement that puts faces on milk cartons. Hernandez reportedly worked at a convenience store in the neighborhood where Patz lived, and had been considered a person of interest in the past.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is expected to give a briefing on the case later today. What's your reaction to the apparent break in the case today? What questions do you want answered by investigators? How did the disappearance of Etan Patz affect you or your family in 1979? What impact has this case had over the last three decades?
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I was living in NYC at the time – this was just before I joined the Army – and to me the most horrifying thing, what makes me feel for the parents the most, is that this was the first time the child had been allowed to walk to the bus by himself, like Leiby Kletsky more recently, and a couple of other cases.
This is the one fact I can’t get out of my head, and when I care for nieces or nephews they don’t understand why Auntie holds their hands so tightly when she takes them out.
--jayne from manhattan (the sergeant majorette)
Postscript: It was in discussing this case with my mother that I found out that my father had shadowed me when I made a reconnaissance bus-and-subway trip to the high school I was going to attend.
I was 9 when Etan disappeared. I was a close friend of his older sister. We used to celebrate our Birthday together. I had nightmares of finding his head in the freezer for many nights when he went missing. The photos on the news and milk cartons made me imagine terrible things. I never thought 33 years later I would see his photo on TV again. Its like a reminder of a VERY difficult time. Now I have my own child and can`t imagine what his parents are going through. Until we know the REASON its hard to accept a confession. I do hope they find some remains or something from all this reopening of this terrible time.
Where is the closure? You are telling a mother her six year old childs body is at a city dump and probably will never be found. In a way this seems so much more horrible.
Two points of information. First, there is no statute of limitations on murder. Second, in NYS, first degree murder is limited to felony murder (murder committed during the commission of a crime) and murder of a police officer. Second degree murder is the equivalent of what is commonly known as first degree murder (with intent). There is no higher crime that the accused murderer of Etan can be charged with.
I can remember seeing his picture on a milk carton. I believe he was the first boy to be on MILK. It's just beyond sad it's been over 33 years.
Andrew W. UES NY,NY
Dear people on the call,
I hate to think about Etan Patz. I was young a couple a years ago and my mon told me that story and I wouldn't go out to even take a walk by myself.
Farrah, New York
This reminds me of the end of Fahrenheit 451. Can't find the killer...anyone will do. Is this to boost Mr. Kelly's mayoral run?.The whole press conference seemed fake. Kelly, usually composed, seemed oddly uneasy. I'm not convinced that this case really closed today.
Upper East side
I was skeptical about the confession after "hours" of questioning without an attorney and no other evidence, until I realized that NJ interrogations are video taped (which should be a requirement for all police interrogations). I hope that there was no monkey business, I am always suspicious of long police interogations. I just wonder why this man wasn't questioned 33 years ago, when all of the other bodega employees were. Sad that the family had to suffer all of these years. With just a confession, I would still be wondering if it's the right guy.
Meryl from Manhattan
People keep saying that this brings closure to this case. There is no closure to a horrendous crime like this. There is no justice here. My heart goes out to the Patzs' family.
And If any person knew of Pedro Hernandez's alleged murder of Etan Patz for 33 years and did nothing deserves to be charged as well. It is not the evil that people do -- it is the people who stand by and let it happen.
How terribly sad to think of this young boy's body disposed in such a matter. I pray that his family can at least rest knowing the actual circumstances. When I found out about Etan Patz my children were 9 and 7. I used to let my oldest daughter ride the bus with other children to school and to go to the corner store. After Etan disappeared my children did not go to school alone until they were 14. I wondered about him for years and always on the anniversary. I always prayed for his family and grieved with them.
Pedro was only 19 years old when he allegedly murdered this child.
Just wondering where was the owner of the business, and how did something like this happen right under his nose?
I'm sure Cy Vance had all the evidence he needed to go forward with the arrest. He has made several mistakes in the past with faulty prosecution. This case will redeem his reputation.
Isn't anyone considering that this perp was only 18 or 19 years old in 1979 ? The listeners who insist he must have "had a history" of doing this kind of crime prior to killing Etan Patz are not doing the Math. I would be very interested to learn his motive. Was he just reality testing, to see if he could get away with it ? Was it a gang initiation ? Had the Patz kid annoyed him at the bodega in the past ? It would be important to check for subsequent crimes, but it is silly to assume there were any priors.
Miggie in Jackson Heights
My condolences still goes out to the patz's family This was tragic to loose a child I was a young father at that time so I know what the patz's family has endured all these years.
Scary that we actually question the truth behind confessions in today's society. This guy will be lining up exclusive interviews, book and movie deals in no time. This was all planned. He never got caught and didn't get the attention he felt he deserved, wo now he will make sure he gets it.
I am sorry but this confession seems false,how come no one found the body if he placed it out on the curb.
What was the reason for Pedro Hernandez doing such a crime? You stated that he just took him at the store, down to the basement, suffocate, and wrapped him up. But why?? If he was a killer he would have done it again
Jackie, south ozone park
I was 22 when Etan was taken and remember feeling very consumed by the story. I wondered about him all the time, wondered what I would do if I saw him on the street. I just assumed he would turn up.......how could anyone harm a 6 year old???? 1979 was just a different time. Kids came home from school, dropped their books and went back outside till dark........Odd people with bad intentions were not so obvious. over the years, I have paid attention when Etan's name would be mentioned......always hopeful, he would walk back into his family home. Now that I am a parent, I think hard and many times before I make any decisions about permitting my child to be out without me. why on earth did harm come to this child?
Back in 1979 – Living on LI as a kid myself this made me and everyone I knew that NYC was dangerous and too stay away from the City. It shaped how my family viewed the NYC at the time.
Now I live in Chelsea.
How could this suspect (hernandez) receive ssi disabilty payments for an alleged back injury for years after committing such a horrible crime?
The family were suffering for years. It was a painful experience that can't be expressed in words. I hope e tan mother can have some peace. And this evil man will be subjected to the wrath of justice.
I was around Etan's age when he went missing & clearly remember watching the news unfold, seeing him on the milk cartons, & my nypd dad's reinforcing the don't talk to strangers speech. Although I was from Brooklyn, it touched me deeply. Maybe because we were the same age, but it stayed with me & I followed the story my entire life. I really cared, still care & pray for his soul & his parents. I hope the bastard gets what he deserves.
So after all this time these two guys solve the crime. Many of us feel that both mother's were to blame for letting the children go it alone on those days that this god awful thing happened to them. The community in Brooklyn got special cameras and so what about the rest of us that live in this city also? They can't keep doing this to us by acting as though most of us don't exist. I REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND IT AT ALL.
Thank you John,