“On May 25, 2012. Pedro Hernandez confessed to killing 6 year old Etan Patz 33 years ago. The FBI, however, remains unconvinced, citing inconsistencies in Hernandez’s confession.
There is a recognition in the general public that false confessions can and do occur. Confessions in high profile cases are not uncommon. John Mark Karr, for example, falsely confessed to killing JonBenet Ramsey. His 2006 confession was considered, at the time, to be strong enough to extradite him from Bangkok. Even as that process was occurring, however, some were expressing doubt. “’It’s a wacky confession full of holes,’ said Craig Silverman, a legal analyst in Colorado who has watched the case closely over the years. “If that’s all they’ve got, then they’ve got holes.”
Confessions such as Karr’s are called ‘Voluntary False Confessions.’ These are statements wherein, without prompting or police pressure, an individual takes responsibility for a crime they did not commit. “There are a host of reasons why people have volunteered false confessions – such as a pathological desire for notoriety, especially in high-profile cases reported in the news media; a conscious or unconscious need for self-punishment to expiate feelings of guilty over prior transgressions; an inability to distinguish fact from fantasy due to a breakdown in reality monitory, a common feature of major mental illness; and a desire to protect the actual perpetrator.”
In the case of Mr. Hernandez, there are certainly suggestions that one or more of these common motivators may exist. Consider ‘a pathological desire for notoriety, especially in high-profile cases reported in the news media.’ The confession comes on the heels of much media coverage of the excavation of a basement in SoHo in late April of this year.
Consider, also, ‘a conscious or unconscious need for self-punishment to expiate feelings of guilty over prior transgressions.’ This isn’t the first time Mr. Hernandez is alleged to have confessed to this crime. This confession was alleged to have been made to a charismatic church group. Interestingly, according to Father David Rivera, public confessions in charismatic church groups are ‘fairly normal.’ Of further interest, regular attendees ‘grow hardened’ to such public confessions. Apparently to the extent that the group leader didn’t feel compelled to report this admission to police.
Finally, contributing to voluntary false confessions is ‘major mental illness.’ According to his attorney, Mr. Hernandez has a long psychiatric history.
Is it possible that one or more of these factors led to a voluntary false confession? Of course it is. Is it also possible that Mr. Hernandez did, in fact, kill Etan Patz? Of course it is. The confession, however, is a starting point for law enforcement, not an end point. Continued investigation into the facts alleged in the confession, a detailed examination of the inconsistencies within the confession, as well as inconsistencies or consistencies discovered as a result of additional and prior police work, will allow the authorities to better determine the validity of the confession.”
Hernandez, who was nineteen years-old in 1979, told police that he lured Etan by promising to buy him a soda at a store.
About a month ago, investigators searched the former workshop basement of carpenter Othniel Miller, who in 1979, gave Etan a dollar the day before Etan disappeared. Apparently, the boy had helped Miller around the shop. Etan had said he planned to buy a soda with his dollar.
Did Hernandez read this in a recent article and create his story about luring Etan with the promise of a soda?
Etan, who was six years-old when he vanished, was one block from his Manhattan home, walking to school alone for the very first time.
I am not blaming the parents; I am certain they have lived with the severe pain of self-inflicted guilt for three decades, but…why why why… did they allow a 6 year-old to walk the streets of New York by himself???
It is being reported that, in the years following Etan’s disappearance, Hernandez told a family member and members of a charismatic church group that he had “done a bad thing” and killed a child in New York.
So no one did anything right? No one went to police with this information, even though Hernandez lived in the same neighborhood as Etan?
Etan was declared dead in 2001 during a lawsuit filed by Etan’s family against Jose Antonio Ramos, a convicted child molester who knew Etan’s baby sitter.
A judge found Ramos culpable for Etan’s death and ordered Ramos to pay $2 million to Etan’s family (they have not received any of the money).
Ramos was considered a key person of interest in the investigation for many years, but he has never been charged. Ramos is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for sexually abusing another boy. He is supposed to be released this year.
I think Jose Ramos is a much more likely suspect. Ramos was a child molester who was acquainted with Etan’s babysitter, and if you check out Etan’s images online, some of the photos of Etan look very child-like and innocent. Others look a little seductive. One image is of Etan with no shirt on, looking a little too manly in my opinion. Why would parents have their little boy pose with no shirt on?
My guess would be that Ramos, who might have known the boy was going off to school alone for the first time, decided to live out his fantasies, abduct the child, molest him, and then killed Etan to keep the boy from exposing Ramos as a child molester.