NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A former jailhouse informant testified Thursday that someone other than the man on trial for Etan Patz's murder admitted decades ago to kidnapping and molesting the 6-year-old boy.
Jeffrey Rothschild testified for the defense representing Pedro Hernandez, who confessed to killing Etan in 1979.
Rothschild said convicted pedophile Jose Ramos admitted to him that he molested the boy. Ramos was never charged in Etan's disappearance, but he was considered the prime suspect for decades.
Former Informant: Convicted Pedophile Admitted Molesting Etan Patz
Rothschild said Ramos recounted in horrifying detail how he molested Etan and other boys, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported.
Ramos said he told Etan that what he was doing was good, Rothschild testified. Ramos quoted Etan as saying, "If this is good, how come my mommy and daddy don't do it to me?" according to Rotschild's testimony.
Rothschild, who was once jailed for credit card fraud, was acting as an informant for former federal prosecutor Stuart GraBois.
GraBois spent years trying to build a case against Ramos. Rothschild told the jury that Ramos was just as obsessed with GraBois, telling him, "He knows I did it, but he can't prove it, and it's killing him."
Rothschild said he asked, "Is the boy dead?" Ramos told him: "What do you think? Of course he's dead. But they'll never find a body. There's no proof," according to the witness' testimony.
The defense hopes to plant reasonable doubt in jurors' minds about Hernandez's guilt.
Hernandez confessed to police in 2012 that he offered Etan a soda to entice him into the basement of the SoHo bodega where he worked. Then, Hernandez said, he choked the boy and dumped him in a box with some curbside trash. Etan's body has never been found.
Defense lawyers say Hernandez's confession is fiction, dreamed up by a mentally ill man with a low IQ and a history of hallucinations and fueled by more than six hours of police questioning before Hernandez was read his rights.
While he has denied killing Etan, a civil court found Ramos liable for the boy's death in 2004 after he stopped cooperating with questioning.
Etan's disappearance ushered in a new protectiveness into American parenting. He became one of the first missing children featured on milk cartons. His parents advocated for legislation that created a nationwide law-enforcement framework to address such cases.
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