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Etan Patz: Pedro Hernandez confesses to strangling missing boy

Pedro Hernandez, in custody since last night, confessed to strangling 6-year-old Etan Patz, who went missing in 1979.

Etan patz 2012 04 19Enlarge
Dozens of police and FBI investigators search an apartment basement in New York City on April 19, 2012, for evidence in the case of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared 33 years ago. (Screengrab)

Pedro Hernandez has confessed to strangling Etan Patz, the boy who went missing in 1979, according to The New York Times.

A law enforcement official said 67-year-old Hernandez claimed he strangled the then six-year-old boy, wrapped his body and put it in a box, according to The Times.

Hernandez said he left the box at a location in Manhattan, but it was gone when he went back a few days later.

His confession was videotaped, and investigators are now preparing to interview his relatives to see if he confessed to them about the crime.

The man was taken into custody over the disappearance of Etan last night, according to NBC 4 New York

"An individual now in custody has made statements to NYPD detectives implicating himself in the disappearance and death of Etan Patz 33 years ago," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement this morning, cited by the New York Daily News

More from GlobalPost: Search for Etan Patz ends after lead turns cold

According to NBC's sources, the man was already known to investigators. He reportedly lived and worked in Etan's neighborhood when the boy disappeared.

Etan was last seen walking on his own to his school bus stop in SoHo, Manhattan, on May 25, 1979, the Associated Press said.

Hernandez said he lured Etan with candy, according to the Daily News.

Despite a huge search operation and intense media attention, the boy was never found. He was declared legally dead in 2001.

No one has ever been charged with his disappearance – although, in 2004, his family successfully sued to have the boyfriend of Etan's babysitter, Jose Ramos, declared responsible for his death, the Daily News said. Ramos is currently in prison for a separate charge of pedophilia, but has never been criminally charged with Etan's murder.

Interest in the case was revived earlier this year when police searched a basement in the area, but no fresh evidence was found.