NYC jury reaches verdict in Etan Patz murder case

Jury finds Pedro Hernandez guilty in murder, kidnapping of Etan Patz

A New York jury has convicted Pedro Hernandez for the high-profile abduction and murder of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old New York City boy who vanished in 1979, according to multiple reports.

The case originally spurred a national hotline for missing children and simplified sharing of information among law enforcement agencies.

Patz went missing on his way to a school bus stop in May 1979 and was never seen again.

A Manhattan jury convicted the confessed killer of little Etan Patz, bringing a sad end to one of New York's most heartbreaking murder trials.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein has long maintained his client has an "IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range" that made him susceptible to a false confession.

Hernandez, 56, showed no reaction on hearing the verdict, but his lawyers said he planned to appeal. Hernandez's first trial ended with a hung jury after one juror declined to convict, citing Hernandez's mental health issues the possibility of another suspect.

The jury had spent nine days deliberating at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan before reaching their decision. "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".

Pedro Hernandez abducted the boy four decades ago
Pedro Hernandez abducted the boy four decades ago

The decadeslong investigation took investigators as far as Israel, but Hernandez wasn't a suspect until renewed news coverage of the case prompted a brother-in-law to tell police that Hernandez in 2012 had revealed to a prayer group decades earlier that he'd killed a child in NY.

Patz's body was never found, but his case helped usher in an era of vigilance. "I've known for a long time that this man Pedro Hernandez is guilty of doing something really bad so many years ago", he said.

In 1983, then USA president Ronald Reagan declared the anniversary of his disappearance National Missing Children's Day.

Detectives then got a confession from Hernandez himself.

Hernandez was not considered a suspect until 2012 after his brother-in-law informed police that he had made statements about killing a child to several people. But over the years, Pedro 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 - details did vary though, according to trial testimony.

Hernandez led Etan into the basement of a corner store where the man worked with the promise of a soda, prosecutors said. After a lengthy unrecorded interrogation by the NYPD in 2012, he recorded purported confessions for police and prosecutors. He then said he choked the boy, put him in a bag, put the bag in a box and left it with the curbside trash. He was one of the first missing children to appear on milk cartons. Despite widespread publicity and the milk-carton campaign, Etan's disappearance stumped investigators for decades.