Confession in Etan Patz Murder: ‘Something Just Took Over Me’

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Pedro Hernandez’s stunning 2012 confession to the 1979 murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz was made public for the first time on Monday. In a videotape played in a Manhattan courtroom, with Patz’s family members in attendance, Hernandez described spotting the boy on Prince Street in Soho and luring him into the cellar of a bodega where he worked by offering him a soda. “When he went in front of me I grabbed him by the neck and I started to choke him,” Hernandez said. “I wanted to let go but I just couldn’t.”

The 53-year-old suspect said the attack left Patz unconscious, but the boy was still moving when he placed him in a garbage bag. Hernandez claims he placed the bag in a cardboard box and left it in an alley a few blocks away. When he went to look for the box the next day, “it wasn’t there.”

Hernandez insists that he did not sexually assault the boy, and could not explain why he wanted to kill him. “It was like something took over me,” he said. “Something just took over me and I just choked him.” The defense is arguing that the confession should be thrown out because Hernandez has a low I.Q. and a history of mental illness, and might have been influenced by investigators during hours of unrecorded questioning. The issue could determine the outcome of the case, as it appears there is no other evidence linking Hernandez to the crime.