Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.

District Attorney, New York County

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2017

DA VANCE: PEDRO HERNANDEZ SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS-TO-LIFE IN PRISON FOR KIDNAPPING AND MURDERING ETAN PATZ IN 1979

Watch DA Vance and Stan Patz Discuss the Sentencing Here

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of PEDRO HERNANDEZ, 56, to 25 years-to-life in state prison for kidnapping and murdering six-year-old Etan Patz, who disappeared while walking to a school bus stop in 1979. On February 14, 2017, the defendant was convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury of one count each of Murder in the Second Degree and Kidnapping in the First Degree.

“When Etan did not come home on the afternoon of May 25, 1979, the Patz family was changed forever,” said District Attorney Vance. “In the intervening years, they did not know where Etan was – whether he was dead or alive, whether he was being abused, or whether he knew that his parents and the police never stopped looking for him.

“We, as New Yorkers and as a community of families all over the United States, were also changed forever. Through this painful and utterly horrific real-life story, we came to realize how easily our children could disappear, ripped away from us right in our own neighborhoods.

“When a child is murdered, both a family and a community are fractured. For parents, it is a pain so profound that it has been described as a prolonged waking nightmare. Today, the living embodiment of that nightmare – Pedro Hernandez, the person that a jury unanimously convicted of killing Etan Patz 38 years ago – is being sent to prison for the maximum sentence possible. 

“Once again, I would like to acknowledge the extreme dedication and diligence of the prosecutors and detectives who worked on this case. I would also like to thank the jurors, as well as Judge Wiley, who saw this case to its conclusion. Most of all, however, I would like to thank the Patz family for their strength and fortitude throughout this process. From the very day their son went missing, they have been their child’s strongest advocate, ensuring that Etan and other missing children were never forgotten.

“The conviction and sentencing of Pedro Hernandez will never calm the anxieties of a parent whose child is late from school, or who wanders off during a visit to the park. But today’s outcome should reassure us all in one crucial respect: it should reaffirm our faith in our institutions of justice.”

As proven at trial, on the morning of May 25, 1979, HERNANDEZ, who was employed as a clerk at a bodega on the corner of West Broadway and Prince Street in SoHo, lured Etan Patz into the basement of the convenience store near the boy’s bus stop with the promise of a soda. Inside the basement, HERNANDEZ choked the child until he went limp, then placed the boy’s body in a plastic garbage bag that he concealed inside a cardboard box. The defendant then carried the box containing Etan’s body out of the basement and left it with the trash in the alley of a nearby building on Thompson Street, a little more than one block away.

Assistant District Attorneys Joan Illuzzi, Joel Seidemann, and James Vinocur handled the prosecution of the case, with the assistance of Investigative Analyst Sarah Doelger, and under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Director of the Legal Writing Program Harriett Galvin, Assistant District Attorneys Penelope Brady and Erin Tierney, and former Paralegals Angelica Hoyos and Dennis Xie provided additional assistance with the case. 

District Attorney Vance thanked the following agencies and individuals for their assistance with the investigation: the NYPD, including the Missing Persons Squad and Major Case Squad, and in particular, Police Commissioner O'Neill, as well as former Police Commissioners William Bratton and Ray Kelly, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, Chief James Luongo, Lieutenant Christopher Zimmerman, Detective Ralph Sherlock, Detective David Ramirez, and former Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and in particular, Tara Semos; and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, and in particular, Captain Patricia Taulane, Sergeant Eric Wren, Detective Lance Saunders, and Detective Miguel Rubert.

Defendant Information:

PEDRO HERNANDEZ, D.O.B. 1/13/1961
Maple Shade, NJ

Convicted:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A-I felony, 1 count
  • Kidnapping in the First Degree, a class A-I felony, 1 count

Sentenced:

  • 25 years-to-life in state prison