After a nine-day deliberation, a jury has found Pedro Hernandez guilty of felony murder and kidnapping in the death of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 while walking to a bus stop near his home in SoHo, Manhattan. Hernandez, 56, confessed in 2012 to enticing Patz into a grocery store, where he was working, and then attacking him; his body has never been found.
[P]hotographs of the boy, with his sandy hair and sweet smile, were printed on “missing” posters plastered around the city and splashed on the front pages of newspapers, on television newscasts and even—for the first time—on milk cartons. The alarm caused by his disappearance reverberated around the country, embodying the worst fears of parents and helping to change the way the authorities tracked child abductions.
“The Patz family has waited a long time, but we finally have some measure of justice,” said Stanley Patz, Etan’s father, who still lives in the same Prince Street apartment with his wife since his son’s disappearance. “I’m really grateful, I’m really grateful, this jury finally came back with what I’ve known for a long time—that this man, Pedro Hernandez, is guilty of doing something really terrible so many years ago.”
Hernandez faces 25 years to life in prison for the charges.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.