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Guilty Verdict In Etan Patz Case, Nearly 40 Years After Boy's Disappearance

The disappearance of Etan Patz made national headlines, as police and his family called for answers. The boy's mother, Julie Patz, is seen here in 1981 during an appearance on NBC's <em>Today</em> show.
Dave Pickoff

A jury in New York City has found Pedro Hernandez guilty of murder in the kidnapping and death of Etan Patz, who was 6 years old when he went missing in 1979. The verdict follows a mistrial nearly two years ago, after a jury became deadlocked.

Patz was never again seen by his family after he left home to walk to the school bus stop nearby. His body has never been found.

"The disappearance of Etan Patz haunted families in New York and across the country for nearly four decades," Manhattan District Attorney Vance says. "Bringing closure on Etan's disappearance to the Patz family has also been among my highest priorities since I took office as District Attorney.

The jury found Hernandez guilty of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.

As the Two-Way has reported:

"Patz vanished on May 25, 1979, and became one of the first missing children to be pictured on milk cartons.

"Hernandez, who was a teenage stock clerk at a Manhattan convenience store at the time Etan disappeared, confessed to the murder 33 years later, in 2012. Police arrested Hernandez soon after.

"However, the defense has insisted that 'the confession was false and concocted by mental illness, and they said another longtime suspect was the more likely killer,' according to The Associated Press."

In recent years, Hernandez, 56, told police that he had suffocated the boy and put his body in a cardboard box. When he made that confession nearly five years ago, Hernandez reportedly had no criminal record.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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