There was a major break Thursday in the Etan Patz case, the six-year-old boy who vanished on his way to school in New York City more than thirty years ago.
The New York City Police Department arrested a New Jersey man in connection with Etan's death.
Police said Pedro Hernandez, 51, of Maple Sherry, NJ confessed to the crime, and was charged Thursday night with second-degree murder.
On May 25th, 1979, Etan Patz left his house in SoHo headed for school. For the first time, the six-year-old was allowed to walk to the bus stop alone, but his parents never saw him again.
According to police, Hernandez confessed to killing Etan in a bodega near the bus stop.
“Hernandez described to the detectives how he lured young Etan from the school bus stop from West Broadway and Prince Street with the promise of a soda,” said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “He then led him into the basement of the bodega, choked him there and disposed of the body by putting it into a plastic bag and placing it into the trash.”
Hernandez allegedly told a family member that he had "done a bad thing and killed a child in New York City." That person recently called police with the tip.
“We can only hope that these developments can bring some measure of peace to the family,” Kelly said in a press conference Thursday evening.
Etan's disappearance and the ongoing search consumed the New York City community for decades.
Thursday’s development had a far-reaching impact, especially on a local family whose daughter disappeared 14 years ago.
“It is almost like she vanished off the face of the earth,” said Doug Lyall, father of Suzanne.
Doug and his wife Mary have been searching since 1998.
They said it's been a rollercoaster, with hundreds of tips leading them nowhere. While they want answers, they said the thought of getting news like Patz did Thursday is horrifying.
“You want to know and you don't want to know at the same time,” Doug said. “It's a very strange and weird position to be in.”
But learning that the Patz finally have some answers to more than three decades of questions gives the Lyalls renewed hope in their search.
“I don't think we can ever say that we will give up until we can know definitively she is safe or she is no longer with us,” he said.
As for Hernandez, police said he will go before the district attorney Friday. According to authorities, there isn't any hard evidence linking Hernandez to the murder, but they said they have more than three hours of a videotaped confession.
The Lyall's are still asking anyone with information about Suzanne to call State Police at 1-800-920-4150.
There is a reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the disappearance of Suzanne Lyall.