The face of little Etan Patz has haunted parents for decades, but on Tuesday, some justice was finally served in his death, NBC New York and CBS New York report. Pedro Hernandez, 55, was acquitted of intentional second-degree murder in the nearly 40-year-old case, but he was found guilty of kidnapping and felony murder of the New York City 6-year-old, who disappeared on May 25, 1979. Hernandez had in 2012 confessed to choking Etan to death, but a previous trial ended in a hung jury due to one holdout juror. Hernandez could now face life in prison.
Prosecutors say Etan had been heading to school on that May morning when Hernandez, who worked at a convenience store near Etan's SoHo bus stop, promised the boy (who was without an adult) soda, lured him into the store's basement, then strangled him and got rid of the body. Hernandez was "keenly watching and admiring this beautiful friendly child," a Manhattan assistant DA said, per NBC. Although Etan's body was never found, he was one of the first faces of missing kids on a milk carton, and his disappearance led to new laws that set up a national hotline and other initiatives to help search for missing children.