Published June 08, 2012
MAPLE SHADE, N.J. -- – Detectives have found an old toy and worn clothing that are "age appropriate" for Etan Patz hidden in the New Jersey home of the boy's confessed killer.
NYPD investigators planned to test the items for DNA -- and hope they will serve as key evidence in the murder case against 51-year-old former SoHo bodega stockboy Pedro Hernández, sources told the Post.
Cops were stunned by the discovery on Wednesday as they executed a search warrant at Hernández's home in Maple Shade, near Camden.
"When they were found, the air was sucked right out of the room, [it was] a very emotional moment," a source said.
The clothes and unidentified toy appear to be from the late 1970s. The clothes were worn and "not clean," the source said. "Imagine what your drawers would look like 33 years later."
The sources would not describe the clothing, but the blond, blue-eyed boy was wearing blue pants, a blue jacket and a black Eastern Air Lines pilot's cap when he disappeared on May 25, 1979.
It was unclear whether cops have shown the new evidence to Etan's parents, Stanley and Julia Patz, to see whether the couple could identify the items.
The sources noted that Hernández also has a son, and that the items would be tested to see if they belonged to him.
"They have to send it to a lab or analyze it," a second source said.
Etan was six years old and walking alone for the first time from his Prince Street home to a West Broadway bus stop in New York when he went missing.
Hernández, 51, told cops he lured the boy into the bodega with a soda and killed him in the basement. He said he dumped the body in an alley nearby.
In his confession, he provided "intimate details" of the crime that were never released to the public.
He was arrested on May 24 and remains under psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue Hospital.
Although he fully confessed to the murder, he has a history of mental illness, and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office wants more evidence to strengthen the case, sources said.