NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The daughter of a man on trial for murder in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz testified Monday about her father’s unusual behavior in an effort to show that he is mentally ill.
Monday is the first time Becky Hernandez, 25, has spoken publicly about the charges against her father, Pedro Hernandez.
She said she wasn’t allowed out with friends as a youngster unless she had a written invitation and two weeks’ notice and her father held her hand crossing the street until she was 14.
She described her father as strict, controlling, compulsively early and compulsive about cleaning, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
The defense is trying to show Pedro Hernandez’s 2012 confession to choking the boy is a delusion.
Becky Hernandez also testified that her father told of seeing things nobody else saw, including a lady in white with long blonde hair and people with really old faces behind him.
She said her father would clean their Maple Shade, New Jersey, home profusely and cook dinner starting at 2 a.m. — the same food every night: chicken, rice and beans. He would sleep for hours during the day, rarely socialized and insisted on sitting in the same church pew every Sunday.
“We knew he wasn’t well, and we didn’t want to hurt his feelings,” she said. “You know how children sometimes believe in something? That’s the type of response we had. My mom always taught me that what he sees and what he believes is not what we have to see.”
She said her mother taught her to say “oh really” and treat him like a child with an overactive imagination so as to not hurt his feelings, Cornell reported.