New Etan Patz evidence questioned

(CBS News) NEW YORK - Police have turned up possible new evidence in the Etan Patz case.

Investigators searched the home of Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to killing 6-year-old Etan in 1979.

Police say they found a toy and children's clothing that appear to be from the same time as the boy disappeared.

Among the items were a couple of clothing items, specifically a pair of black pants, apparently short pants, and a Matchbox toy, a Matchbox vehicle, one of those little cars that kids collect.

Police went in with a search warrant to seize computers, looking for digital media, any writings -- whether Hernandez had written about the case or his confession or anything else. And when they came across these children's clothes -- there's no little kids who live in that house, so that struck them as unusual, and they actually kind of stopped what they were doing and got the search warrant amended so that they could seize those items, as well. They went to the court and wanted to add children's clothing and toys to it and took them.

But there will be a process here where they have to document that evidence, photograph it and either show it in evidence bags or those photographs to the Patz family and say, 'Does this look familiar?" There's some debate right now as to whether the clothes might have been too big.

A delay of this length in getting a search warrant - Hernandez was arrested May 24 - is unusual. The normal procedure would be you arrest a person, you figure out where you need to search, you get your probable cause, you place officers there to get control of the premises so nobody can go in and remove anything, and then you execute your search warrant. So seeing it a couple of weeks later is a little unusual, but the probable cause that they went in with, again, was for computers and then they kind of stumbled into this and it took them by surprise.

It isn't unusual for a killer to keep personal items from a victim. If you talk to an FBI profiler, they would say one of the offender characteristics of serial killers, killers of small children, is to collect trophies. And that could be what (investigators) they were looking at the possibility of here.

  • John Miller

    John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.

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