In 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz walked to his school bus stop in SoHo, NYC all alone for the first time. He was never seen again. Now, 40 years later, Pedro Hernandez has been found guilty of murdering Patz, according to NBC.
In a trial that featured over 300 separate pieces of evidence presented over the course of nine days, Hernandez was convicted by a jury panel of eight men and six women. Jurors reportedly had difficulty making a decision: "Deliberations were difficult but I think we had constructive conversations based in logic that were analytical and creative and adaptive and compassionate," one juror said.
Patz's case was rather high profile when it occurred. In fact, the controversy surrounding the missing child led to a crackdown on crime and the creation of a national Missing Children's Day, which marks the anniversary of the boy's disappearance.
In 2012, Hernandez's brother-in-law shared suspicions with law enforcement that Pedro might have committed the crime, according to the New York Times. Later, Hernandez confessed that, in 1979, he lured the child to the basement of a bodega where he worked before strangling him to death. He has denied any sexual wrongdoing, though the prosecution argued that it was a likely motive.
Patz's remains have never been found, and there was no physical evidence linking Hernandez to the crime.
The defense argued that a confession made by Hernandez was coerced, and that law enforcement had taken advantage of someone suffering from a mental illness.
Hernandez's lawyer has already said that he plans on appealing the decision.
Patz's father was in attendance when the deliberation was delivered. "I've known for a long time that this man Pedro Hernandez is guilty of doing something really terrible so many years ago," he said.
"The disappearance of Etan Patz haunted families in New York and across the country for nearly four decades," said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in a statement. "Etan's legacy will endure through his family's long history of advocacy on behalf of missing children. However, it is my hope that today's verdict provides the Patz family with the closure they so desperately deserve."
Hernandez has been tried for the crime before, but the trail had resulted in a hung jury.
[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]