One of the most iconic cases of missing children in the U.S. is finally brought to a close. Pedro Hernandez was found guilty of kidnapping and killing Etan Patz in 1979.

The boy vanished without a trace, and his disappearance has traumatized the entire city
The boy vanished without a trace, and his disappearance has traumatized the entire city.

( — February 15, 2017) — Once again it has been proven that justice is slow but reachable, as the case of kidnapping and murder of the six-year-old boy Etan Patz, who disappeared in 1979 in New York City, finally came to a close.

After 37 years of investigation which involved two trials, the American jury found that 56-year-old Pedro Hernandez is guilty of kidnapping
and second-degree murder of Etan Patz.

Mr. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28th.

The crime took place on May 25th, 1979, when the six-year-old Etan Patz went to a school bus stop alone for the very first time. The stop was only two blocks away from his house, in the Manhattan’s Soho district.

The boy then vanished without a trace, and his disappearance has traumatized the entire city and haunted many generations of American parents.

Detectives said that Pedro Hernandez, who was 18-years-old at the time and worked as a clerk at the corner store near Patz’s bus stop, confessed to having killed the boy. 

But, the boy’s body has never been found, the police never found anything that belongs to the boy, and because of that, it was very complicated to gather what had actually happened. 

The missing boy, Etan Patz, was officially declared dead in 2001.

The first trial of Pedro Hernandez, which lasted four months, ended up being cancelled in May 2015, because the jury, after three weeks of consideration, failed to reach a unanimous decision.

In his confession to the police, Hernandez said that he lured the little boy into the basement of the grocery store with the promise of a soda, then choked him to death, after which he had placed the body in a plastic bag in a cardboard box, which he later threw into a nearby trash can.

However, Hernandez’s defense lawyers claim that his confession had been extorted. They also said that the confessions he had given to his friends are too old and unspecified to be considered valuable. 

The second trial took place in 2012, and ended up as the first one. 

Hernandez’s lawyers said that his confession is nothing more than an aggregation of false ramblings of a mentally ill man, who also has a low IQ.

The jury panel, consisting of eight men and six women, reviewed more than 300 trial exhibits over the course of nine days of deliberations in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, before reaching their final decision on Tuesday, reports the NBC.

“Deliberations were difficult but I think we had constructive conversations based in logic that were analytical and creative and adaptive and compassionate,” one juror told the reporters after the verdict was read. 

After the boy’s disappearance, his photograph was plastered all over the city for months and even appeared on the screens in Times Square.

Etan was the first missing child in the United States ever to appear on milk cartons.

This tragic case shaped law enforcement practices nationwide as the United States decided to form The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children after Etan’s disappearance. Also, the anniversary of Etan’s disappearance became National Missing Children’s Day.