Etan Patz Arrest: Is It Really An Open and Shut Case?

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Is there a problem with the arrest in the Etan Patz case? So wonders New York Times Columnist Jim Dwyer in today's newspaper.

Dwyer suggests that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg were awfully quick to convict suspect Pedro Hernandez, before the full investigation was done. Quoting law enforcement sources, he points out that there is not much corroborating information beyond Hernandez's statement to police.

Dwyer also points out tellingly that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance wasn't present for the press briefings held by Kelly and Bloomberg.

"The law enforcement official involved in the case said that investigators were now trying to find reasons to trust Mr. Hernandez's story," Dwyer writes. "Why would a man with no known history of pedophilia or murderous impulses lure a boy into a bodega basement and strangle him?"

Dwyer also notes that people have made false confessions in the past, whether out of psychological problems or police coercion. Did Hernandez provide police with details that haven't been made public? Unknown. And why doesn't Hernandez give a motive in his statement? That's extremely odd.

Meanwhile, Mike Daly in the New York Daily News reports that Hernandez had confessed to the crime before, more than 30 years ago, but was dismissed by detectives as a "lunatic." His relatives called police fairly shortly after Patz disappeared in 1979, claiming that Hernandez told them he had killed the child. They reached out again after a recent search of a basement by police who were looking at another suspect.

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