Thirty-three years after 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a bus stop near his New York home, some answers may be finally emerging as to what happened to him. In some ways, that's certainly good. The family and the community want answers. In other ways, it's devastating. To finally hear the excruciating details of what may have been the last moments of little Etan's life are almost too much to bear. Court documents filed in the case against Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to the crimes that led to Etan's death, but then pleaded not guilty, reveal the chilling details of what may have happened to Etan.
Hernandez worked as a stock boy (he was only 18 at the time) in his family's bodega near the bus stop where Etan was last seen. According to court documents, this is what Hernandez told police during the eight-hour interrogation that led to his confession:
[Hernandez] was at work that morning, that he saw the boy at the bus stop, asked him if he would like a soda, led him to the basement of the bodega where he was employed, and for no apparent reason immediately choked the boy until the boy went limp. The defendant said he then placed the boy in a plastic bag, placed the bag in a cardboard box, and tossed the boy's book bag behind a freezer in the basement. He then carried the box to the entranceway of a basement approximately one-and-a-half blocks away, where he placed the box on the ground just inside the open entranceway. According to the video-recorded statement by Mr. Hernandez, when he left the box, Etan Patz was still alive.
Hernandez also reportedly told police that he went back the next day to check on Etan, but the box was gone. So, essentially, he confessed to what may have "led" to Etan's death, but not to murdering Etan, as he believes the boy was "alive" when he left him.
Hernandez apparently has a long history of mental illness, and the defense will argue that his confession is a false one. Even the confession sounds crazy, who would leave a box with a child in it and then come back the next day to check on him, and think he was alive?
This also brings up questions such as why didn't anyone see Hernandez carrying a box with Etan's body? Why didn't police find the boy's book bag? And why didn't police find the box when the massive search began the day he was reported missing?
With our streets now filled with surveillance cameras, we are more accustomed to getting the type of concrete answers that only video can give. Unfortunately, the Etan Patz case will never have that.
What do you think happened to Etan?
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