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New Jersey man is new target in infamous missing child case

Today, the attention given to cases of missing children is quite intense. Various specific child abduction cases have inspired various laws throughout the country that have helped reduce crimes against kids and the number of kids that remain missing.

This wasn't always the case. When young Etan Patz of New York went missing in 1979, there was a shortage of efficient processes to help get him back. His disappearance did, however, inspire the famous tactic of putting a missing person's face on a milk carton. Still, that tactic didn't lead to any positive identification of a suspect, and it wasn't until this week when a suspect would actually be charged with the disappearance andviolent crime against the child.

Though Patz's body was never found, his parents had him legally declared dead years ago. Now, a man from New Jersey is officially charged with the supposed murder of the child. His criminal defense attorney claims that the defendant Pedro Hernandez didn't commit the violent crime.

The 51-year-old defendant has been indicted based on his confession that he had taken, strangled and killed Patz. His attorney insists that the confession is not credible, however, because Hernandez is not in good mental health. Currently, he isn't aware of any other evidence of guilt that the prosecution has against Hernandez.

If the defendant is mentally unstable and there is no other evidence besides a confession, then tying him to a supposed murder where there isn't even a body connected to it seems like a long shot. Though this missing persons incident goes back decades, this particular criminal case is still very new. As the high-profile murder trial continues, we will post updates with any new developments. It will be interesting to learn what, if any, other evidence that the prosecution believes it has.

Source: Reuters, "N.J. man who confessed to Etan Patz's murder faces charges in court," Joseph Ax and Karen Freifeld, Nov. 15, 2012

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