More Cracks and Confusion in the Etan Patz Suspect’s Confession


A confession is not an end goal so let’s not jump to any conclusions yet. Because there’s still plenty to discuss in these recent developments in the Etan Patz story.

On Friday, fellow Voice writer Graham Rayman speculated on the aftermath of Pedro Hernandez’s confession to killing the young Etan Patz all those years ago in SoHo. The headline wrote, “Etan Patz Arrest: Is It Really an Open and Shut Case?” and referenced the Times writer Jim Dwyer’s skepticism toward the suspect who has mysteriously popped up 34 years later.

It looks like FBI agents are asking the same question to themselves as Hernandez’s testimony continues to baffle authorities for its lack of consistency and logical nexuses. Now, throw in the headache: according to the Post, Hernandez shared “intimate details” with NYPD officials that apparently tie him to the case. And the cops believe these details are enough to make this an open and shut case.

Let’s try to make some sense of this.

Pedro Hernandez’s confession is 34 years overdue. He has a long history of mental problems, that includes everything from schizophrenia to hallucinations, and has been taking antipsychotic pills for years now. That was demonstrated in his immediate admittance to Bellevue, where he was put under suicide watch, after he came to the authorities with his side of the story. And, according to people in contact with the feds, his story does not match up to the known fact pattern. Inconsistency will get us nowhere in front of a judge.

As of now, there is no corroborating evidence linking the man to the crime and, apparently, he confessed to the cops in ’79, just days after the disappearance, and the NYPD dismissed him as a “lunatic.” That might explain why he went into hiding for all these years and decided to come back into the spotlight once Manhattan DA Cy Vance re-opened the case a few months back.

In other words, Hernandez provides us, in court terms, with virtually nothing.

But what about those intimate details?

The Post reports that only the upper, upper echelons of this investigation – Vance, NYPD commish Ray Kelly, etc. – know what the hell Hernandez actually said to officials. But this information is being kept secret, for legal purposes: if the suspect’s testimony is found to be false (see above), leaking this information would be a breach of Hernandez’s credibility.

If the details are “intimate,” they involve an extremely close relationship: it would be information only someone close to Patz would know, like body marks, scars and other factors of appearance on the boy’s body.

It seems as if the officials who know this information are convinced that, regardless of whether or not Hernandez murdered Patz in the bodega basement in SoHo, it is absolutely certain that he was involved with this crime, one way or another. And that’s where the confusion lies.