Friday, May 25, 2012

Rant #744: It's Time

Etan Patz.

Yes, just saying that name brings up memories of that day, 33 years ago today, when the young six year old boy, on his way to his school's bus stop for the first time by himself, somehow left the face of the earth.

He was never found, but his mysterious disappearance sent shock waves not only through his Manhattan neighborhood, but through the consciousness of all parents everywhere.

We became more careful with our children after that. It wasn't like when I was a kid in the 1960s, and you could freely walk around your neighborhood with no sense of danger.

And even police methods were forced to change because of this case. Where once, missing kids were given some time to resurface, now, when a case such as this one is brought to the police, they act on it immediately.

The world changed with Patz's disappearance, and now, that has seemingly come full circle.

All these years later, there has been an arrest made of an individual who claims to have murdered the youngster.

A New Jersey man, 51 year old Pedro Hernandez, has confessed to the killing. He was a teenager at the time, working in a bodega that was right across from the school bus stop.

According to Hernandez, he offered Patz some soda, lured the child into the basement of the bodega--which is now a sunglass shop--and strangled him.

He put the child's body in a bag and dumped it a few blocks away. He later came back for the bag, but it was gone.

Hernandez, who has an arrest record related to several drunk-driving incidents, lived with his family in a suburban area of New Jersey. He has a common-law wife, and a teenage child. He worked at various jobs over the years, most recently at an electronics store and a grocery store.

Prior to this, he mainly worked in construction, but an injury allowed him to receive disability payments.

He was an unassuming person, but one with lots of guilt. Evidently, beginning in 1981, he told relatives that he had committed a horrible act against a child, but he was never investigated for anything.

And those he told also did nothing.

Police methods were different 33 years ago, but you would think that Hernandez would have been a suspect years ago. After he allegedly committed this act, he left his job at the bodega.

This should have given police some cause of concern, but for whatever reason--probably because there was no record of him working there, and he probably worked off the books--no investigation was ever done on him for this crime.

Other have claimed to have committed the act, but they have had some type of false bravado in doing so.

And let's face it, 33 years after the fact, can Hernandez be fully believed?

Evidently, reopening the cold case recently by scouring a building that police got tips on as a possible burial place for Patz opened up the eyes of others, and Hernandez was outed for the stories he allegedly told about the incident to family members.

Now, it is up to the courts.

Without the least bit of evidence, and only Hernandez's eventual testimony to use as a gauge for guilt or innocence, it is going to be difficult to convict this person of the crime.

He said he did it, but several others have said they did it too.

There has to be one grain of evidence that the public does not know about that corroborates his story with what the police know. The public doesn't know about what this is, of course, so if his story matches what the police know, then yes, they will have the right guy.

But Patz's body is most probably, most definitely, gone forever. It was probably burned up in some incinerator 33 years ago.

Why Hernandez allegedly perpetrated this horrendous crime is another shine to this case that hasn't been spoken about yet. If he does testify, this might or might not come out in the wash.

Why does one person kill another? Why does an adult or teenager kill a child? Who knows what goes on in the mind of someone like this?

But if he is the guy, he has lived with this for more than three decades.

And what of Patz's parents, who not only have had to live with the loss of their child for the past 30-plus years, but see their child's name dredged up every few years when a new wrinkle to the case supposedly comes forth?

For instance, for years there was a rumor that Patz actually was kidnapped, whisked off to Israel, was brainwashed, had his name changed, and was living there, never assuming he was the Etan Patz that was involved in this incident.

Then there was the convicted child molester, in jail for years and for the remainder of his life, who has claimed for years that he killed the boy.

Then recently, there was the tip the police received that a handyman might have been involved.

What Patz's parents have gone through these past 33 years is jarring, to say the least.

But they have always been hopeful. Through it all, they never moved and never changed their phone number, always hoping that their son would call home.

Let's hope that the police have got their man now, if for nothing more than to give closure to Patz's parents.

They deserve at least that.

Have a good holiday. Speak to you on Tuesday.


  1. If he's guilty,he of course,needs to be burned at the stake.

  2. I don't know what punishment he deserves. The thing that gets me is that he told his story to several people over the decades--including a church pastor and family members--and no one ever acted on it. They are as guilty as he may be, and just think of the torture this would have spared Patz's parents if this would have come out decades ago. Why did the people he spoke to not come out with their story to the police? This is something they should have to answer for too.



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