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Police Probe Reports Of Previous Alleged Confessions By Suspect In 1979 Etan Patz Case

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Police are looking into reports that the man charged with killing 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 may have confessed decades ago.

Pedro Hernandez is still in the hospital where he was arraigned bedside Friday on second-degree murder charges in the 33-year-old case.

WCBS 880's Paul Murnane On The Story


Hernandez told investigators that on May 25, 1979, he lured Patz into the basement of a SoHo deli, choked him, put his body in a plastic bag and threw it out with the trash, police said.

He said he kept the secret from police for more than three decades, but is said to have confessed to at least two family members, his sister and brother-in-law, saying that he "did a bad thing to a child in New York," police said.

His sister, Norma Hernandez, told The Star-Ledger that she did not have details about the killing but told Camden police about it in the 1980s. She said they did nothing at the time.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said that he had not heard her claims that she had reported her brother.

Norma Hernandez said she would have turned her brother in if she'd had more information.

Detectives are also investigating another possible confession made in the early 1980s to a prayer group led by Thomas Rivera inside a Camden church.

With no physical evidence in the case, any admissions could be crucial to the prosecution.

Police have also asked the Sanitation Department for records from May 1979 to possibly trace trash pickups at the Bodega and find out which landfills were used.

1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reports


"Obviously, we have put a lot of resources in the investigation, a lot of detectives gathering information and talking to people," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "We believe that will be helpful in building the case."

In a statement, the Sanitation Department said it should have hand-written log books in their archives that go back that far.

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond With NYPD's Ray Kelly


On Tuesday, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the investigation is going forward.

"We're in New Jersey talking to a lot of people," he told reporters. "Certainly talking to all of Pedro Hernandez's siblings."

Kelly refused to address reports that the FBI had deep reservations about Hernandez's confession and that he's said to have a history of mental illness.

"There is a lot of information out there, just a lot of erroneous information," said Kelly.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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