Etan Patz Suspect Confessed to Church Group in '80s
Reportedly told Camden group he had strangled a child
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2012 7:32 AM CDT
In this courtroom drawing, Pedro Hernandez, second right, is arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court before Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr., via closed circuit television.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)

(Newser) – The missed opportunities for justice seem to be stacking up in the Etan Patz case. The New York Times today reports on a prayer group suspected killer Pedro Hernandez attended in the early 1980s in Camden, NJ—and whose members he reportedly confessed to. The Times speaks to the then-leader of what the paper describes as a "charismatic Christian gathering" at St. Anthony of Padua, Tomas Rivera, who says Hernandez said that he had strangled a boy and deposited his body in a Dumpster. As for why Rivera never called police, "He did not confess to me" individually. "He confessed to the group."

The Times notes that the story could be key to the case for a number of reasons: For one, there's no physical evidence connecting Hernandez and Etan, which makes confessions all the more crucial. And the fact that this alleged admission occurred just a few years after Etan disappeared could dispel some of the skepticism about the strength of his current confession. The Times also spoke with one of Hernandez's 11 siblings, Norma, who said that while he never confessed to her, she, along with the entire family, was aware of the prayer group confession.