Thirty three years ago, in 1979, an adorable six year old, Etan Patz, got off the school bus and was never seen again. It was the first time he was going to walk the two blocks to his home alone. His disappearance got a lot of media attention and the all of NYC was affected by the story. I heard that his parents never moved from their home or changed their phone number in hopes their son would one day walk back through those doors. But, after years of investigation, the case was cold and closed. All leads went nowhere. Etan was one of the first children whose picture was placed on a milk carton.
Recently, against the wishes of Etan’s parents, the case was reopened. They did not want to relived the ordeal, but police decided to reopen the case in 2010 and begin a new investigation. Some leads were followed. None paid off until now. Police questioned 51 year old Pedro Hernandez, who now lives in New Jersey. He moved from New York City shortly after the murder he confessed to. He tells police that when Etan got off the school bus he lured him into the basement of a grocery store where he worked, with the promise of a soda. There he choked the young boy to death and put his body in a trash bag and disposed of it along with probably dozens of other trash bags for the sanitation to pick up. His body will probably never be found.
I remember this story so well. Etan was never forgotten. His name would always resurface when other children went missing through the years. The investigation into his disappearance was swift and thorough, but never yielded any results. It caused anxiety and awareness for all parents about leaving young children unsupervised. I think it’s amazing that after all these years and no real evidence, the police received a tip and were finally able to interrogate this suspect again. This time they got a confession. Hernandez was found to be very remorseful about what he had done and told police everything. They believe his confession because it is so detailed. Hernandez had also told family members, at one point, that he had done something bad when he was 19, he had killed a little boy in New York City. Henandez went on to marry and have a daughter, who is now in college; while the Patz family has lived with the loss of their son, never knowing what happened to him.
Maybe now Etan’s family will have some closure. I hope and pray they do. I can’t think of anything worse than losing a child.