NY man guilty of murder in infamous 1979 child disappearance

NEW YORK, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A New York City jury on Tuesday found a former delicatessen worker guilty of murdering Etan Patz, a six-year-old boy whose disappearance in 1979 raised national awareness of the plight of abducted children and their parents.

The conviction of Pedro Hernandez, 56, came during his second trial in state court. It followed a 2015 mistrial that occurred after a single juror refused to go along with 11 other panelists who were convinced of his guilt.

After the verdict was read in court, Patz's father, Stan, shared hugs with prosecutors. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 28.

The boy vanished as he walked alone to a school bus stop in the city's SoHo neighborhood on May 25, 1979 and for decades was one of New York's most infamous unsolved mysteries.

His picture became one of the first to appear on milk cartons, which in the 1980s became a popular way to seek leads about missing children. His disappearance also helped bring about a national database of such cases.

Hernandez confessed to police in 2012, saying on videotape that he had lured the child to the basement of the deli where he worked near the Patz home and strangled him.

He later recanted, and his attorneys argued the confession was the product of mental illness, including hallucinations, and coercion by the police.

7 PHOTOS
Pedro Hernandez - Missing Boy Etan Patz Case
See Gallery
Pedro Hernandez - Missing Boy Etan Patz Case
Pedro Hernandez's defense lawyer Harvey Fisbein speaks to the media at a court in New York on January 30, 2015 at the lunch break of his client's trial in accusation of kidnapping and killing six-year-old Etan Patz in one of America's most famous missing child cases. Hernandez, 53, is accused of luring Etan Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked, before killing and dumping his body out with the trash on May 25, 1979. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A notice to the media from Stan Patz, the father of Etan Patz who disappeared 33 years ago at age six, is posted in front of the building where the Patz family lives, in New York, May 29, 2012. Suspect Pedro Hernandez, 51, told police he strangled the boy after luring him 'with the promise of a soda' to the basement of the grocery store where he worked, close to a school bus stop where the child was last seen in 1979. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd L) and daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd L) and wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Daughter Becky Hernandez (2nd L) and wife Rosemary Hernandez (2nd R), of alleged Etan Patz murderer suspect Pedro Hernandez, walk away from a courthouse with a lawyer and a family friend before Pedro Hernandez's arraignment later in the day on May 25, 2012 in New York City. Patz was a 6-year-old boy when he disappeared on his way to his school bus stop in 1979. It is alleged that Pedro Hernandez used a soda to lure the boy down to a basement of a bodega, then strangled him. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly arrives for a news conference at Police Headquarters May 24, 2012 in in New York City. Kelly announced the arrest of Pedro Hernandez, who police say confessed to the 1979 killing of six-year-old Etan Patz. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Patz's body was never found despite a massive search, and prosecutors had no physical evidence tying Hernandez to the disappearance. Instead, they relied largely on Hernandez's confession and on statements he had made to others over the years referring to the kidnapping.

He was initially arrested five years ago, after his brother-in-law called authorities to report his suspicions.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.