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NYPD Searching NJ Home Confessed Killer in Patz Case

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

New York Police Department detectives are in Maple Shade, N.J., searching the home of the man charged with the murder of a 6-year old who disappeared in 1979.

An NYPD Crime Scene Unit van and detectives arrived at the residence of Pedro Hernandez on Wednesday afternoon. Hernandez lived at the home with his wife and daughter.

Hernandez confessed last month to killing Etan Patz, saying he lured Etan away from his Soho school bus stop with the promise of a soda.

Chief police spokesman Paul Browne says the search is part of the ongoing investigation.

Hernandez was working as a clerk in a bodega in May 1979 and lived near by.

His confession came almost 33 years to the day Etan disappeared. His metal health as become an issue in the case, as WNYC reported:

Pedro Hernandez was arraigned via a video conference from Bellevue Hospital, where he's being held, on Friday.  Police say doctors told them Hernandez had made suicidal statements.

His attorney, Harvey Fishbein, asked for a competency exam to be held at a later date.  Fishbein told the judge his client is bipolar and schizophrenic and known to have hallucinations.

The case has also raised questions because there is no evidence linking Hernandez to Etan's disappearance and alleged death, only the confession, as reported last month:

There is no physical evidence or motive linking Hernandez to the crime, police said. He has no criminal record.

But the details Hernandez offered about the boy's disappearance gave them probable cause to proceed with the arrest, police said. Hernandez confessed to the crime on videotape.

“The detectives believe in the credibility of the statement of Mr. Hernandez,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. He added the detectives who questioned Hernandez described him as “remorseful,” and that there was “a feeling of relief” from Hernandez.

Prosecutors are determining the next step for the Hernandez. Because there's little physical evidence, it's likely the case will hinge on whether the confession is admissible in court.

Associated Press contributed reporting

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