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Etan Patz Case: Court date for murder suspect Pedro Hernandez postponed again

A man who was working nearby when Etan Patz disappeared 33 years ago is heading to court today. Police say he confessed to the crime. "CBS This Morning" senior correspondent John Miller reports.

Etan Patz, left, is seen alongside Pedro Hernandez, 51, who was arrested May 24, 2012 in the boy's 1979 disappearance.
CBS/AP
(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - The court date for the man charged with murdering Etan Patz, the 6-year-old Brooklyn boy who went missing while walking to school in 1979, has again been pushed back, and according to a report by the New York Post, the reason may have to do with the prosecution's lack of evidence against Pedro Hernandez.

Pictures: Man in custody in Etan Patz disappearance

Police say in May Hernandez confessed to luring the boy to the basement of a convenience story where he worked at the time and killing him. He was booked on a charge of second-degree murder, but investigators have had problems corroborating his story. Hernandez had been due in court Oct. 1, but prosecutors announced Monday that they would put off his appearance until Nov. 15 so both sides can continue to investigate "in a measured and fair manner," the same wording used when a court date in June was adjourned for three months.

Hernandez, 51, has a history of mental illness. His attorney has said that he is bipolar and schizophrenic, with a history of hallucinations.

Since his confession, investigators have searched the SoHo basement of the store where Hernandez was previously employed but reportedly found no evidence of the crime. Authorities also searched the New Jersey home where Hernandez lived with his wife at the time he confessed, seizing papers and a hard drive.

After three decades of leads and false starts, including a recent search of another SoHo building where a handyman who had known Patz worked, Hernandez's confession was a huge break. Officials reportedly brought him in for questioning after receiving a phone tip. But the Post reports that their sources say police have been unable to confirm his story.

In May, Hernandez's sister, Norma, told a local newspaper that her brother had spoken to some family members about having killed a child, and that she heard secondhand that he had told a church prayer group in the 1980s that he killed a child in New York City.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced in 2010 that his office was renewing the investigation into the case that captured international attention for the cause of missing children. Subsequent searches of SoHo buildings yielding no evidence.

Complete coverage of the Etan Patz case on Crimesider

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com

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