The murder trial of the man accused in the disappearance of first-grader Etan Patz ended today with the jury deadlocked after 18 days of deliberations, leaving unresolved a case that has haunted New York City for 36 years. Jurors said for a third time that they were deadlocked in the case against Pedro Hernandez, and the judge declared a mistrial. The New Jersey man was a teenage stock boy at a Manhattan convenience store when 6-year-old Etan went missing May 25, 1979. Prosecutors have asked to set a new trial date, and Hernandez will remain in jail.
Etan was among the first missing children pictured on milk cartons, and his parents helped shepherd in an era of law enforcement advances that make it easier to track missing children. While New York City detectives frantically searched for the sandy-haired boy, Hernandez moved back to New Jersey and slipped off the radar. His name appears in police files only once until 2012, when he confessed to choking the boy in the basement of the shop, then putting the body in a bag, putting the bag in a banana box, and walking it about two blocks away where he dumped it. But Etan's body was never found, and no physical evidence tying Hernandez to the crime has surfaced. His defense team says the confession was coerced.