NYPD detectives are questioning a New Jersey man who claims to have used candy to lure 6-year-old Etan Patz before attacking him with a knife, giving authorities another possible lead in the case of the boy who disappeared 33 years ago.
Police picked up the man Wednesday evening in Camden and brought him to New York City for questioning, NBC 4 New York first reported Thursday.
Law enforcement officials identified the individual to NBC 4 New York as Pedro Hernandez.
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An official familiar with the case says Hernandez claims he lured Patz into a store near the boy's house before attacking him with the knife. Police are now working to see if his account can be verified.
Hernandez worked and lived in Patz's neighborhood when the boy disappeared on his walk to the school bus stop May 25, 1979.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement that the man "has made statements to NYPD detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago," but did not elaborate.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance had pledged to reopen the decades-old cold case when he took office in 2010. The exhaustive search for Patz was renewed several weeks ago when police dug up the basement of a handyman's workshop near where Patz disappeared. A new layer of concrete had been laid over the foundation of the basement shortly after the boy vanished.
That search yielded no new evidence.
Hernandez so far has not provided details that would lead police to Patz's body, sources said.
Several sources have indicated some skepticism exists about his story, but police are being thorough in their investigation of any possible leads.
Patz's disappearance touched off a massive search that has ebbed and flowed over the years. It also ushered in an era of anxiety about leaving children unsupervised.
His parents, Stan and Julie Patz, were reluctant to move or even change their phone number in case their son tried to reach out. They still live in the same apartment, down the street from the building that was examined in April. They have endured decades of false leads, and a lack of hard evidence.
The family did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
Stan Patz had his son declared legally dead in 2001 so he could sue Ramos, who has never been criminally charged with the boy's death and denies harming the boy. A civil judge in 2004 found Ramos to be responsible for the child's death.
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