NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Prosecutors remain confident in their case against the suspected killer of Etan Patz, despite a lack of new evidence against Pedro Hernandez, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
Hernandez confessed to the 1979 killing six-year-old Patz earlier this year, but that remains the only evidence against him.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports
Police have described the investigation into Patz’s murder as an exercise in beating a dead horse, Cornell reported.
In the three decades since Patz’s death, detectives have interviewed more than 300 relatives, neighbors and schoolmates of Hernandez, now 51.
Hernandez worked at a convenience store near Etan’s home when the boy disappeared.
Hernandez said he lured the boy from the bus stop with the promise of a soda before suffocating him in the basement of the store, according to prosecutors.
Earlier this year, investigators ordered a SoHo basement to be ripped up in the search for physical evidence. Two landfills and a storage facility were also searched but no evidence was found.
The most promising discovery was a box hidden in the ceiling rafters of Hernandez’s attic bedroom in New Jersey.
The box contained boy’s underwear, blue shorts and yellow Matchbox car but none of the items could be linked to Patz.
Hernandez is due back in court on Thursday.
The District Attorney’s office has not commented on the case, but is expected to take the evidence it has to a grand jury.
Last week, another suspect in Patz’s disappearance was taken into police custody.
Jose Ramos was released from a Pennsylvania prison Wednesday then immediately arrested on a Megan’s Law violation after providing an outdated address of where he would be residing, state police said.
Ramos was immediately taken into custody following his release from prison where he spent more than 20 years for molesting children.
Ramos had long been suspected in the disappearance of Patz, who vanished May 25, 1979 after leaving his Manhattan home to go to a bus stop two blocks away. It was the first time his parents had let him go off to school alone.
Ramos had been dating the boy’s babysitter and later served time in Pennsylvania for molesting two other boys.
Etan’s disappearance caused a frenzy in New York City. It also prompted huge changes in the way missing child cases were handled. Etan was the first missing child to appear on the back of a milk carton and his case turned May 25 into National Missing Children’s Day.
His parents never moved or changed their phone number, in case he returned. In 2001, they obtained a court order officially declaring their son dead.
Ramos was declared responsible for Etan’s death in a civil court in 2004, but the Manhattan district attorney’s office has said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him criminally. Ramos has denied any involvement in Etan’s disappearance.
In 2010, District Attorney Cyrus Vance reopened the case.
Hernandez was charged with Etan’s murder earlier this year, after police said he confessed.
His lawyer, Harvey Fishbein, has said Hernandez is mentally ill and authorities have not cited any additional evidence to implicate him beyond his own admission.
A judge ordered an evaluation of whether he was mentally fit for trial, but results have not yet been disclosed.
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