Posted by Edmond Geary | Posted in Murder, Violent crimes | Posted on 25-06-2012
Tags: Murder charges, Violent crimes
Pedro Hernandez confessed last month to the murder of Etan Patz, a 6-year old boy who disappeared in New York in 1979. Indeed Hernandez worked at a small grocery on the corner where the boy was supposed to catch his bus, but some experts are raising questions about the credibility of the confession.
Hernandez is now a family man, confessing to a crime 33 years old. So, did he commit this crime only and then walk around with the guilt for three decades, or has he killed other people in the interim? Psychiatrists say it is an odd case.
Hernandez was 18 at the time, and that is about the age when psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder first manifest. It is possible Hernandez committed this murder and then got treatment for the rest of his life, and that could account for his going 33 years without being noticed by the police. If he started medication, he could have then controlled his symptoms. People who know Hernandez say he is taking Zyprexa, which is often prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar.
But back in the 1970s, psychiatric treatment was rarely accessed by someone like Hernandez, a teenager from a large working-class family. Effective treatment so quickly after first symptoms would have been rare in the ‘70s. And, for him to avoid the symptoms, Hernandez would have had to stay consistently on his medication consistently, often not done.
His case does not fit known patterns. For one thing, Hernandez told police he killed the child but did not admit any sexual motives. Forensic psychiatrists say, however, adult men who kill strangers of school age almost always do it for sexual reasons. One psychiatrist’s studies cover reports of 1,500 serial killers. Of those, 50 involved an adult male killing a child who was a stranger. In all but 3 of those cases, there was evidence of a sexual motive. Further, in all of those 3 cases, the killers were clearly recognized before their crimes as dangerous people. People noticed them as dangerous.
Hernandez, however, was known to his family and neighbors as married and two children. Psychiatrists say someone who kills a child at age 18 was likely already crazy- dangerous for a year or two and is not likely to improve a lot by age 42. If Hernandez was a sexual predator, it would have been very hard for him to silence those urges for a lifetime.
We are reminded that over 100 people confessed to killing President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated. Hernandez may be one of these. But if he did not kill young Etan Patz, who did?
Another suspect did surface, and the Petz family brought a civil case of wrongful death against him in 2004. The family won the lawsuit against Jose A. Ramos, who said he believed he had molested Etan but did not kill him. Ramos is in prison in Pennsylvania from a conviction for child molestation in a different.
Details of the confession Hernandez gave are still now known in detail, but as those details are revealed, more of Hernandez will come to light, as well as the details he gave to police – or failed to give.