Man convicted of NY child murder almost 40 years later

Etan became one of the first missing children ever pictured on milk cartons, and the anniversary of his disappearance has been designated National Missing Children's Day.

Defense lawyer Harvey Fishbein argued in his summation that the real killer is convicted and now imprisoned child molester Jose Ramos, 73, who was a longtime suspect in the case.

The jury panel of eight men and six women reviewed more than 300 trial exhibits over the course of their nine days of deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan before reaching their decision.

Etan's parents, Julie and Stan Patz, called for a national fingerprint database, and for federal laws requiring parents to notify their schools when their children are to be absent, and for schools to notify parents if their child does not show up.

Murder charges were not filed in the case until 2012, when Hernandez, who was 18 when Etan disappeared, confessed to investigators he lured the boy into the bodega where he worked by promising him a soda.

His accused kidnapper - Pedro Hernandez, was found guilty of murder.

A photograph of Etan Patz hangs on an angel figurine, which is part of a makeshift memorial in the SoHo neighborhood of NY, on May 28, 2012. "Pedro Hernandez is an innocent man". But almost 40 years later, the case is finally closed.

Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28.

In a statement on Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. said he hoped the verdict brought the Patz family "the closure they so desperately deserve". His body was never found.

Hernandez told authorities he'd left Etan's body, still living, in a box with some trash, but no trace of him has been found since he vanished in a then-edgy but neighborly part of lower Manhattan. In an e-mail response to The Villager Tuesday evening, he said, "Thanks for writing". The slain boy's father, Stan Patz, was being comforted by the ex-jurors and appeared to wipe tears from his eyes. "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 awful thing".

Hernandez, a 56-year-old former store clerk being retried for the crime after his first trial in 2015 ended with a deadlocked jury, "staked out" Etan for several days before strangling the boy to death, prosecutors said.

Etan was last seen on a Friday in May 1979. "He could tell fantasy from reality". "It's about time", he added, according to the Associated Press.

"That he took the child, took him to the basement".

"When he went in front of me, I grabbed his neck and I started to choke him". "He told me that he had abused the child".

But in 2012, they turned their attention to Hernandez after his brother-in-law informed police about his possible involvement. He subsequently confessed to police after a lengthy interrogation, but his lawyers argued police coerced him.

Hernandez, 55, was convicted of felony murder and acquitted of second-degree murder by the jury, suggesting they believed that he did not mean to kill the boy.

The May 1979 disappearance of Etan as he walked to his bus stop by himself for the first time became one of the highest profile crimes in New York's history, and led to parental anxiety nationwide about leaving children unattended. While serving a 27-year prison sentence for molesting a boy in Pennsylvania, Ramos reportedly told a jailhouse informant he molested and killed Patz.

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