Donate to the Q13 FOX Cares and Les Schwab Holiday Toy Drive

Pedro Hernandez found guilty in 1979 murder, kidnapping of 6-year-old boy

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK — A New York state court jury found Pedro Hernandez guilty Tuesday in the 1979 kidnapping and murder of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy whose disappearance sparked an era of heightened awareness of crimes against children, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

The conviction brought to a close what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. called one of New York’s “oldest and most painful unsolved crimes.”

Patz disappeared on May 25, 1979, as he walked to a school bus stop. The search for him included the placement of his photo on milk cartons, the first time the method was used to help locate missing children.

Hernandez, 56, a former bodega clerk, confessed to the crime and was previously tried for the same charges in 2015, but was spared a conviction when a lone holdout on the jury led the judge to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutors this time convinced a Manhattan jury that Hernandez lured Patz into the basement of a bodega on the corner of West Broadway and Prince Street with the promise of a soda.

In the basement, prosecutors said, Hernandez choked the boy to death and then put his body in a plastic garbage bag that he concealed inside a cardboard box.

Hernandez eventually left the box with other trash in an alley more than a block from the store.

Defense attorney Harvey Fishbein, who was not immediately available for comment Tuesday, has long maintained his client has an “IQ in the borderline-to-mild mental retardation range” that made him susceptible to a false confession.

“Etan’s legacy will endure through his family’s long history of advocacy on behalf of missing children,” Vance said in a statement Tuesday. “However, it is my hope that today’s verdict provides the Patz family with the closure they so desperately deserve.”

Hernandez confessed to police after a 7½ hour interrogation, but his lawyers said he made up his account of the crime and that Hernandez has severe mental illness.