NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A renowned psychiatrist testifying for the defense says the man suspected of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 is mentally ill.

Dr. Michael First testified Tuesday that Pedro Hernandez has schizotypal personality disorder. He said the diagnosis is on the spectrum of schizophrenia.

He diagnosed Hernandez after interviewing him three times.

Hernandez confessed to police in 2012 that he choked the child in the basement of a SoHo convenience store where he worked and dumped his body in the trash. A body was never found.

Hernandez, who most recently lived in Maple Shade, New Jersey, also confessed to First. But the psychiatrist said Hernandez told him there were 15 people in the basement with him when he choked the boy, which First said clearly wasn’t true.

Etan Patz (credit: Stanley K. Patz)

Etan Patz (credit: Stanley K. Patz)

Defense attorneys are trying to show the confession is a delusion. Prosecutors say Hernandez’s confession is sound.

Etan’s disappearance ushered in a new protectiveness into American parenting. He became one of the first missing children featured on milk cartons. His parents advocated for legislation that created a nationwide law-enforcement framework to address such cases.

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