This May 28, 2012, file photo shows a newspaper with a photograph of Etan Patz at a makeshift memorial in the SoHo neighborhood of New York where Patz lived before his disappearance on May 25, 1979. (Photo credit: AP/Mark Lennihan, File)
New York judge Justice Maxwell Wiley set a new date of February 22, 2016 to allow the case’s new prosecutor ample time to prepare the retrial of the alleged abductor.
The murder and abduction case was reopened over 30 years after Patz’s disappearance. Acting on the tip from a relative, police arrested the accused, Pedro Hernandez, 54, of Maple Shade, New Jersey.
Relatives told the media Hernandez has a long history of mental illness. Prosecutors, however, felt confident that 20 years of medical records supported their conclusion that Hernandez was “credible and persuasive.”
The case ended in a mistrial this past May when the jury could not reach a decision. Of 12 jurors, one refrained from voting to convict.
Pedro Hernandez, the murder suspect in the case of missing child Etan Patz. (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Patz’s abduction is considered one of the most notorious child kidnappings in US history. It led to a nationwide movement that can be traced to today’s Amber Alerts, which notify drivers of missing children.
His image was reportedly the first of a missing child reproduced on a milk carton. In 1983, then-US president Ronald Reagan designated May 25, the anniversary of his disappearance as “National Missing Children’s Day.”
Six-year-old Patz disappeared near West Broadway and Prince Street in Manhattan on the first day his parents gave him permission to walk to his school bus stop unaccompanied. He left home and never returned.
A New York judge did not declared the kindergartner legally dead until 2001.
When Hernandez confessed to the killing, The New York Times reported that he told police he took the boy inside a local bodega, a Hispanic mini-mart. Patz’s body was never found.
Based on his confession, Hernandez was charged in November 2012 with second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.