Suspect held over missing boy in 33-year-old murder mystery

 

It is one of the city's highest profile crimes in history and helped launch a missing children's movement across the United States.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly said further details would be released later over the case of the boy, Etan Patz.

He vanished in May 1979 while walking alone to his school bus stop for the first time. His disappearance ushered in an era of anxiety about leaving children unsupervised.

The boy's photo was one of the first of a missing child put on a milk carton in a national campaign to find them.

The April excavation of a Manhattan basement yielded no obvious human remains and little forensic evidence that would help solve the decades-long mystery.

In the past, the case seemed to have been largely focused on Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester, now serving time in Pennsylvania, who had been dating the boy's babysitter at the time he disappeared.

The boy's father, Stan Patz, had his son declared legally dead in 2001 so he could sue Ramos, who has never been charged criminally and denies harming the boy. A civil judge in 2004 found him to be responsible for Etan's death.

More recently, the focus had shifted to a 75-year-old Brooklyn resident, though he was not named a suspect and denied any involvement. In 1979, he was a handyman who had a work space in the basement where the April excavation occurred.

The suspect was named as Pedro Hernandez. He has not been charged with a crime, said a law enforcement official.

At the time of the boy's disappearance, Hernandez lived in the same Manhattan neighbourhood as Patz. He had been known to detectives for years, but it was unclear what brought them back to him now.

AP

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