Nearly 40 years after the disappearance of Etan Patz made headlines, a New York man convicted of killing the 6-year-old — who was the first child to appear on a milk carton — will soon learn his punishment, the Huffington Post reports.
Pedro Hernandez, 56, is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of kidnapping and murdering Etan, years after confessing in 2012.
At around 8 a.m. on May 25, 1979, Etan was last seen walking to his school bus stop by himself for the first time in Manhattan, which was two blocks away from his home on Prince Street and West Broadway.
New York City police executed a search for the missing NYC boy, and the child’s father, Stanley Patz, posted photos of Etan throughout town in hopes of finding the missing child, but Etan was never found.
A New York judge declared the missing NYC boy legally dead 22 years after Etan’s disappearance.
The 1979 infamous case of Etan’s disappearance reopened years later after a relative provided New York police with a tip that turned their heads toward a new suspect, Hernandez, who came to the United States from Puerto Rico in the 1970s.
Hernandez, a former deli clerk in the SoHo neighborhood, made a recorded confession, stating that he kidnapped the NYC boy on the day Etan disappeared from the bus stop. Hernandez added that he lured the child to the store where he worked with a promise of giving him a soda.
Without providing police with a possible motive, Hernandez — whose family said he was mentally unstable — stated that he strangled Etan to death in the store’s basement, but he added that his intent was not sexually motivated.
Police searched Hernandez’s home, the store’s basement, and surrounding area, but officers were unable to locate Etan’s body. Hernandez told police that he placed Etan’s remains in a garbage bin in a nearby alley before moving to New Jersey.
After Etan’s 1979 disappearance, no trace of his body has been found.
Hernandez was arrested in connection to one of America’s most notorious missing child cases, and he was found guilty of “kidnapping and second-degree felony murder” on February 14 after a mistrial in 2015.
Etan’s convicted killer has been held without bond since 2012.
The guilty verdict gave Etan’s family some sort of relief, according to authorities.
Stanley said, “We finally got some justice for our son.”
“I’m really grateful that this jury finally came back with what I have known for a long time. That this man, Pedro Hernandez, is guilty of doing something really terrible, so many years ago.
“The Patz family has waited a long time, but we finally found some measure of justice for our wonderful little boy Etan.”
Before Hernandez’s was convicted of the murder and kidnap of Etan, his attorney, Harvey Fishbein, “filed a defense motion to dismiss the conviction against his client.”
Fishbein stated that his client’s confession is “unreliable and uncorroborated. This is just another layer of the issues that will be presented on appeal. We believe Pedro Hernandez never received a fair trial.”
The judge rejected the attorney’s motion, saying, “Given the fact the jury was aware of a prior trial, the most they might have learned from a court officer, or some other source, was that former jurors were present in the audience during the trial, at times sitting with or near the deceased family. Without more, this fact alone is insufficient to set aside the verdict.”
When the attorney learned of Hernandez’s guilty verdict, he said he “will stress tomorrow that Pedro Hernandez is an innocent man and is not the answer as to what caused Etan Patz to disappear in 1979.”
“An unfair process resulted in an unjust verdict – we are confident that the system will correct itself during the appeal process.”
The disappearance of Etan prompted President Ronald Reagan to designate May 25 as National Missing Children’s Day, just one year after Etan went missing.
Hernandez will learn his punishment in the infamous 1979 disappearance of Etan on Tuesday in a Manhattan state court.
[Featured Image by Louis Lanzano/AP Image]