Nightly News | May 25, 2012
>>> good evening. it was exactly 33 years ago today, may 25th of 1979 , it was also a friday. it was also the start of memorial day weekend with when a little boy vanished on his way to school in new york city . and he quickly became a face we associate with the start of a nation movement. his name was etan patz , and now a man is facing murder charges after confessing to the killing. tonight, he's hospitalized and on a suicide watch and awaiting the next steps in what will be a complicated legal process all these years later. it's where we begin tonight with nbc's ron allen .
>> the father of etan patz returned home today to a crush of media as the man who police say admitted killing his son, pedro hernandez , was charged with murder in a new york hospital instead of a courtroom because of an undisclosed illness. hernandez is married, a father of a college-aged daughter.
>> he was remorseful. he seemed to -- i think the detectives thought it was a feeling of relief on his part.
>> police say hernandez had told relatives over it years that he once killed a child in new york , and last month when investigators launched a high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful search for etan 's remains, police sources say one of the relatives called in a tip. 33 years ago today, 6-year-old etan was walking two blocks to catch a school bus , doing it alone for the first time. near the store where hernandez worked. police say during a long detailed confession, hernandez admitted strangling the boy, putting the body in a bag, and dumping it in the trash. it was a case so shocking, it awakened the nation to a problem of missing children .
>> etan simply disappeared. this disappearance has led to the most extensive search for a missing child in new york city for decades.
>> his image was everywhere. police searched the neighborhood door to door . his parents agonized.
>> i think more thoughts about where etan is and how he's being detained and what he's eating and what he's thinking. creep in more often. but you have to push them out. you can't continue to dwell on that or you don't keep going.
>> the family has never moved. or changed their phone number, hoping etan would call or come home. in the decades since, countless sightings, theories, leads, and even other suspects have gone nowhere. tonight, in the neighborhood where hernandez had been living a quiet life for years, his confession was stunning.
>> i still can't believe it, really. i mean, but you never know. you see this happening and you ask people, did you believe what happened? i say no.
>> some crime experts caution a confession may not be enough to get a conviction.
>> they're going to have to be able to place him at the crime scene , show he had some type of motive, and perhaps even some inclination to commit the crime before or after, before they're able to tie this up.
>> hernandez will face a single count of second degree murder. in court, his attorney said he has mental issues and he has hallucinations. police admit they don't have any physical evidence linking him to the crime and they say the do not expect to find the remains.
>> ron allen here with us in new york tonight starting us off. ron, thanks. this