A Manhattan judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Pedro Hernandez, who is accused of murdering 6-year-old Etan Patz nearly 36 years ago. Jurors in the case were unable to reach a verdict in three weeks of deliberations.
On May 25, 1979—May 25 is now memorialized as National Missing Children’s Day—Patz disappeared on his way to catch a school bus in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. His body has never been found; for many years, the primary suspect in his death was a man named Jose Ramos who has been convicted of other child sex abuse crimes. But in 2012, New York police announced that they had taken Hernandez—who worked in SoHo in 1979—into custody and that he had admitted to killing Patz. (He allegedly also confessed to the crime in 1979 to a church group.) Hernandez’s attorneys, however, have argued that he suffers from mental illness and was coerced into confessing to police during a long interview.
Etan Patz’s mother, Julie, testified in Hernandez’s trial, and his father Stan told reporters after the mistrial was declared that the Patz family believes Herndandez killed their son. In 2005 the Patzes were awarded a symbolic $2 million judgment against Jose Ramos after they filed a suit alleging that Ramos was responsible for Etan Patz’s death. Ramos was in prison at the time; he was released in 2012 but quickly re-imprisoned after lying to authorities about where he intended to live.